JAY: Did you see Kevin Durant's MVP speech earlier this week? It was real and touching and emotional. It should be required viewing for everyone who knows the difference between a basketball and basket-weaving.
And when he started thanking his mom for all the sacrifices she made, it made it real dusty at my desk.
It also made me think: Barry, when you coach or teach kids in youth sports, as you know, you get as much fun as the players. But the moms, who organize snacks and work the concession stands and make sure everything off the field is handled, those are the ones who are making championship-level sacrifices, you know?
BARRY: Yeah, give me a minute. Watching it again and got something in my eye.
Looking back, it was often the moms who brought the kids to practice and picked them up. And when they are little, and sometimes even in middle school and beyond, moms are the ones who make sure the kids are dressed and have their gloves and cleats when they show up. And when my own two were little, email and cell phones weren't around so the team moms were the ones who did a lot of the phone-tree work and the organizing.
JAY: Great point. It's hard even to think about having a team in the dark ages of pre-cell phones, email and mass text messages.
BARRY: Same phone call times 14.
JAY: I know all the moms on our team this year have worked very well together and made it a real treat for the kids.
Then you see someone like Laurel Zahrobsky at our park every night, making sure someone is running the concession stand, and more times than not doing it herself. That's the behind-the-scenes commitment and dedication that too often goes unnoticed -- but let there be a day when someone's daughter can't get some Sweet Tarts and that would surely be noticed.
There aren't trophies for MVMs, but there should be.
BARRY: I have two distinct memories of moms over the years. The first was the second year I coached. My co-coach and I devised a scheme for dealing with tryouts. I would evaluate the kids and Joe would evaluate the parents on the sidelines, looking for clues as to their ability to get along.
There was one standout player and I had stars all around his name. Joe had marks (not stars) around his mother's name with a note saying, "Under no circumstances." She was not happy being there and having to wait, and she let people know about it.
We didn't draft the young man, who turned out to be the best in the league that year by far. And it turned out the vocal lady at tryouts was his aunt. We learned later that his mom brought him to the first practice with a batch of cookies for everybody. Our scouting reports improved the next year.
The second mom I remember used to show up to practice dressed in flowing linen in a big floppy straw hat and carrying a picnic basket. I can't swear she was eating cucumber sandwiches and sipping mint juleps, but the she should have been.
Anyway, after about two weeks of practice I asked if her son might show up with a glove at the next practice.
"Oh, will he need one?" she said.
JAY: I can remember my dad and me going over players after the evaluation one time before the draft. I think I was 14 and said we should look at one kid because he had snazzy batting gloves and looked the part.
My mom said quickly, "Equipment is the easiest part of any game to obtain."
So there's that.
BARRY: Moms can be tough. They've spent a lifetime learning to tell by the tone of your crying whether you are really hurt or not. My mother was always at my games, and I remember sliding in to home one game and badly turning my ankle. As I was writhing around on the ground, I remember looking up in time to see her with one foot in the air just about to step through the gate. My face must have shown a new level of anguish, because she did a Scooby-Doo-on-the-ledge freeze-in-motion thing and turned around. She knew, or realized, that her coming on the field would have embarrassed me even more than my current state of whining, and that I needed to deal with it on my own.
Now, when I got home, I needed some TLC and I got it that night. The next morning she was over it. If I could hop to the fridge, I could hop to the sink to clean up my mess, she said.
JAY: I know when I was a kid playing, it was super easy to take for granted how much my mom did before we even got to the field. Now that I am coaching, I can't even image not having the help of all the Mama Bulls. They may not score a single run, but they can be the difference between a good day and a bad one and an OK year and a great one.
So kids and coaches alike, as we head into Mother's Day weekend, hug the team mom at your home. We may not have a Kevin Durant type of platform, but we can make sure moms everywhere know how much they mean to us.
BARRY: As KD said of his own mother, "She is the real MVP."
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...