That quote comes from Steve Hartman’s wonderful (and brief) article from last week about a Gainesville, Texas basketball team that follows here in its entirety. But the quote also can certainly be applied to Lady Rose’s “intervention” on behalf of her new father-in-law (Lord Sinderby) on this week’s Downton Abbey Season 5 Finale – a finale that heaps grace upon grace in scene after scene, redeeming perhaps DA’s worst season with it’s best season finale. (Storyline spoilers ahead) During the weekend-long wedding festivities celebrating the union of Lord Sinderby’s (Jewish) son and (Anglican) Lady Rose, Sinderby repeatedly makes clear his disdain for and “lack of blessing” of the union, as well as his repugnance towards all things immoral.

61389In typical Downton fashion, the snobby and hypocritical Lord Sinderby receives his comeuppance. Apparently his long ill-treated servants know where the bodies are buried, and they conspire with Downton Abbey’s mischievous servant Thomas to dig up a particularly damaging skeleton from Sinderby’s past. They forge a letter from Lord Sinderby to Diana, a woman Sinderby had an affair (and child) with a few years prior. The woman shows up to the wedding reception (child in tow) believing she has been invited by Lord Sinderby.

Enter the gracious and “quick on her feet” Lady Rose. She notices the color completely go out of her father-in-law’s face as he sees his ex-mistress and child in the doorway.  She immediately puts two and two together and runs to welcome Diana and (with a *wink) encourages others to play along and welcome Diana as a “long lost friend”. It works, as Sinderby’s wife and son both buy the ruse and never clue in to Diana’s true identity.

Sinderby responds with profound gratefulness and a touch of brokenness. It rivals the emotional wallop of Jean Valjean’s response to the priest’s pardon in Les Miserables. Anyways, as these moments in stories often connect us to others, Lady Rose’s act of mercy toward the undeserving Sinderby reminded me of this high school basketball story from last Friday (ht CB):


If you’re a fan of high school basketball, you’re not alone. But if you’re a fan of the Gainesville Tornadoes in Gainesville, Texas then you are alone.

“Usually our fan base was close to zero,” said one Gainesville player.

“My parents came to one game but they didn’t come to the other ones because they didn’t have time,” said another.

The other students at Gainesville – a juvenile correction facility for felony offenders – don’t come to the games either, mostly because they can’t get out. One of the few perks at the facility – for very good behavior – is a chance to leave the prison a few times a year to play basketball.

They play against private schools like Vanguard College Prep in Waco. And it was before that recent match-up that two Vanguard players – Hudson Bradley and Ben Martinson – announced they weren’t going to play against a team with no fans.

hartmanhoops-aircutframe2646“No one likes playing in an empty gym,” said Martinson.

Bradley told me it “doesn’t seem right” to play a team with no fans, regardless of the advantage it may give his own team.

So before their home game against Gainesville, Bradley and Martinson asked some Vanguard fans for a favor: To cheer for Gainesville instead.

The Gainesville players had no idea what was happening. They walked onto the court to find their own signs of support, their own cheerleaders, even their own fan section. Half the crowd was assigned to cheer for Gainesville. But as the game went on, everybody started to cheer for Gainesville.

“I mean every time they scored the gym was just lit up with cheering and clapping and everyone was on their feet,” said Bradley. “I think in a way this is kind of how sports should be. It just kind of showed me the real impact that encouragement and support for anybody can make.”

Bradley says we all need someone to believe in us. We all need someone who knows our mistakes and loves us anyway. And for that, the Gainesville players can’t thank those boys enough.

“When I’m an old man I’ll still be thinking about this,” said one Gainesville player.