Athletics are often seen through life-and-death glasses, a tunnel-vision focused only on wins and losses. Even more so in championship affairs.
But American Fork Coach Bob Eckles looked at his team's 65-41 loss to Bingham in Saturday night's 4A state basketball championship in a different light.Eckles' Cavemen may have lost the title game to the Miners by a 24-point margin, may have shot a horrendous 27 percent from the floor and may have missed all 17 3-point attempts after connecting on 70 percent of such shots in three previous playoff games. But the performance was not a cause-and-effect result from poor effort and poor intentions.
"You ask the kids to go and give all they've got - what more could you want?" asked Eckles, whose voice frequently cracked and failed him because of the closeness of his emotions. "I don't know who the great god over making baskets is, but I think he forgot us tonight."
American Fork could have pointed to its lower-bracket position, a draw that required them to play Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday - compared to Bingham's Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule. But that and other potential excuses were waved off by the American Fork native.
"I'd sooner be in this locker room and take second place - losing that bad and getting our butts kicked - because you won't see a greater effort by a bunch of kids."
Eckles said that he can only hope that the silver second-place trophy will somehow tarnish to appear as gold - a metal more deserving of his players, he explained.
But, choking back near-to-the-surface tears, he offered another insight, another perspective, referring to his infant daughter, who was diagnosed last year as being inflicted with a cancerous tumour.
"Winning is great, but there are a lot more things more important. I have a little girl that might die - that's more important," said Eckles, walking away as the emotions came over the coach-father having to deal simultaneously with diseases and disappointments.