Mapleton –– In a small gym in the middle of nowhere, two boys locked eyes last fall in the final seconds of a meaningless, one-sided high school basketball game.
ESPN and the big broadcast networks never make it to Mapleton, a tiny unincorporated community situated on the Siuslaw River 45 minutes east of Eugene. The only video of the Mapleton High Sailors’ first game of the 2012-13 season was grainy and out of focus even before the shocked cheers of the gymnasium crowd shook the walls at the very end.
Something far from meaningless happened after those boys spotted each other. They shared one of those unexpected moments that help explain why sports matter, because beyond the spectacle and the pomp, they occasionally offer a glimpse into the extremes of human nature: We are brutal creatures bent on destruction. We are giving, kind and tender.
Even teenaged boys.