The Answer

Nobody would ever mistake me for a sports fan. Despite some sports game being on in our house nearly every night for the husband’s entertainment, usually as backdrop while I’m writing a blog post, I could really care less.

So nobody is more surprised than me to see that today I’m writing about Philadelphia 76ers basketball player Allen Iverson.

His nickname is The Answer, and lately, he could use a few. His 4 year old daughter Messiah is very sick, with a mysterious condition that doctors in Atlanta cannot diagnose. Some reports have said that the child has an infection in her heart, but as of tonight, that doesn’t seem to have been confirmed.

Understandably so, all this is weighing heavily on Iverson’s mind, and he has missed a number of games in order to be with his daughter. Without question, this is the right thing to do. The Sixers have released him “indefinitely” from the team, and of course with this being Philadelphia, the death knell is being sounded for Iverson’s basketball career.

That’s not right. Now’s not the time nor the place to be analyzing Iverson’s performance since he returned to the Sixers or to speculate on his future. He hasn’t been a perfect player now or in the past (his stubbornness about not showing up for practice is legendary in this town) – but none of us are perfect. We all have our issues and growing pains that we all go through as professionals.

We tend to either love or hate our sports figures here in Philadelphia – sometimes at the same time. We wear our impassioned emotions on our sleeves, and aren’t shy about saying what we think. Allen Iverson is no exception.

Whether he realizes it or not, Allen Iverson is showing us that there’s more to being an athlete than what we see on the field, the court, or the gridiron. He’s also showing young people who need to hear his message that sports isn’t always the answer. I’ve worked with kids whose sole goal was to be the next Allen Iverson. In their lives, sometimes the concept of family is elusive, an unfamiliar, intangible word.

So as distressing as this situation is for the Iverson family right now (and maybe the fact that I can truly empathize with the emotions surrounding being concerned about a child’s well-being from afar is why I am absolutely glued to this story), I think Iverson has a golden opportunity once Messiah is well, all things considered and God willing. Basketball aside, he can be a positive role model for kids of the importance of family over sports, how being a parent is 24/7, how it means sacrificing the things that mean the most to you.

Maybe he could become an advocate for parental leave – because, let’s face it, Allen Iverson has the financial means to abandon his superstar basketball career, a luxury that we regular folk don’t have. In our world, it’s not a question of voluntarily leaving one’s job to care for a sick child; in many of our worlds, that decision is summarily made for us.

That’s all for another day, though. For today, there’s a sick little girl to worry about, and when your child is sick, it is all you can do to get through the day, the hour, the minute. There are answers that are needed, even for The Answer.

And then, possibly, a transformation as a community looks to The Answer for some of their own.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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