It is often said that actions speak louder than words.
If that old adage is true, Christian Academy of Knoxville's actions last week spoke volumes.
CAK officials surprised Scott High School by announcing at Friday's game that they were donating half of all gate proceeds from the game to the medical costs of Austin Morrow, the Highlander player seriously injured in a recent game against Alcoa.
Friday's game at CAK was "senior night," as parents, grandparents and fans gathered to recognize seniors at the school's final home game of the season. At most schools, senior night is the best attended game of the season, with perhaps only an annual homecoming game withstanding, and Friday's game at CAK was no exception. Warrior faithful were packed into the gymnasium on the private school's West Knoxville campus.
CAK has not officially donated the money yet; Scott High principal Melissa Rector said that they will forward a check by the end of this week. And the school has not said what the grand total was. But with hundreds of people in attendance, and at $5 a head, it's probably safe to say that the sum won't be unsubstantial.
And, according to Rector, CAK indicated that several parents of students at the school planned to make additional donations.
In sports, it's easy to get caught up in the competition and lose sight of the spirit of sportsmanship that should surround the events. Rivaling student sections see which can insult the other most creatively. Fans yell at referees, and sometimes at each other.
And in the spirit of competitive sports there is an unwritten disdain among public schools for privates, and vice-versa. If you're from a public school you're supposed to dislike the private school; if you're from a private school you're supposed to consider yourself more highly esteemed than your public school counterparts.
At least that's the stigma.
Private schools — especially those that are Christian-based — are often tagged with a bad rap. Every error of judgment on the court or on the field is viewed under a microscope. Coaches are critiqued on how quickly they pull their starters after mounting a comfortable lead on their opponent. "They call themselves Christian and then they go pull a stunt like that . . ." is a familiar refrain.
But actions like CAK's on Friday — not just the monetary donation but also the prayers on Morrow's behalf that were offered up by the school before the game — exemplify the very instructions that Christ left for his followers. And then some.
Morrow, the son of Kevin and Becky Morrow, was released from UT Medical Center on Sunday. Doctors say he will be okay. But the 10-day hospital stay did not come without expenses — related to both medical and travel. It would have been easy for CAK to have simply offered an obligatory moment of silence before Friday's game and considered their duties fulfilled. Certainly everyone would have nodded and said, "That was nice of them." But CAK's administrators and coaches saw a need, and the rivalry on the court — where CAK needed to beat Scott to achieve its season goals, and Scott needed to beat CAK to achieve its goals — was not about to stand in the way.
In a sport where fierce competition sometimes causes the spirit of sportsmanship to be lost, CAK took sportsmanship to an entirely new level.