HEISER: Sports stories that give hope to the hopeless
- Leicester has won its first Premier League title in 132 years.
- Christian School of York baseball has gone from 1-9 to 9-1 in just two seasons.
- In 1993, Kennard-Dale completed an amazing run to the District 3-A boys' basketball title.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
— Desmond Tutu
Don't know for sure, but Ol' Desmond should be a sports fan.
In fact, the South African social activist and Anglican bishop would make a great Leicester follower.
In case you haven't heard, on Monday, Leicester pulled off what may be the greatest underdog sports story of all time.
That's when the Foxes officially won the English Premier League.
Yes, it's English soccer, which normally doesn't get much play in these parts, but this story transcends national borders and disdainful views about European “football.”
Long-suffering Leicester, a 5,000-to-1 long shot at the beginning of the season, is the champion of the most historic soccer league in the world. A franchise that was in danger of being relegated to the second tier just a year ago has earned its first Premier title in its 132-year history.
To call it unbelievable would be under selling it.
To put it in perspective, before the 2016 Major League Baseball season began, the Philadelphia Phillies were the longest of long shots to win the World Series at 500-to-1 — the exact same odds of finding Elvis alive.
That means the Phils are 10 times more likely to win the World Series than Leicester was to win the Premier League. Yes, the Phils are off to a surprisingly good start this season, but even the most diehard Philly fan harbors few, if any, championship expectations.
That is what makes the Leicester story so inspiring. The team overcame staggering odds and a dismal history to achieve an unimaginable championship. It gives hope to all the hopeless sports fans out there.
It's a much-needed reminder of why so many of us love sports so much.
The K-D story: Over the years, right here in York County, we've had our fair share of “Cinderella” stories (forgive the cliché).
One that immediately leaps to mind occurred in 1993 when Kenanrd-Dale made an undefeated run to the District 3-AAA boys' basketball title.
Before the early 1990s, the K-D boys' basketball program was consistently one of the worst in York County. In fact, Rams sports in general had long been the butt of cruel jokes. But the emergence of one great player (Adam Miller) and a number of solid role players suddenly transformed the Rams into champions.
The impact of K-D's title season in southeastern York County can't be overstated. Folks in the Fawn Grove area suddenly had reason to puff out their chests in pride. They came out in droves to support their Rams during the magical run. It helped bond a community that often felt overlooked and overshadowed.
It was truly uplifting.
The CSY story: York County may be in the midst of another surprise season in 2016.
Like K-D, Christian School of York has often toiled in the shadows of the local sports scene. CSY is a small school that doesn't compete in the high-profile York-Adams League, which is dominated by larger public schools. Instead, the Crusaders compete in the Commonwealth Christian Athletic Conference against other small Christian schools.
Just two years ago, CSY finished 1-9 and there was talk that the baseball program would be discontinued. This year, the Crusaders are 9-1, with the only loss being controversial forfeit to Lancaster County Christian last week. On the field, CSY won that game, 5-0, but the PIAA later ruled the Crusaders used an ineligible pitcher and had to forfeit the victory.
The Crusaders bounced back from that disappointing decision in a big way on Saturday with a 5-4 victory over a previously undefeated Harford Christian outfit.
Despite the forfeit, CSY still is ranked No. 1 in the District 3-A power ratings, ahead of No. 2 LCC. A much-anticipated rematch with LCC could occur in either (or both) the CCAC and district playoffs. If CSY can avenge the forfeit loss to LCC, and bring home conference and district championships, it would be exceptionally sweet.
It would also be a stirring story, much like Kennard-Dale in 1993 and Leicester on Monday.
It would also be a reminder that Ol' Desmond is right — hope is never a bad thing, especially in sports, where the unbelievable can become feasible, seemingly in the blink of an eye.
It's why so many of us love the games so much.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.