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Bless your heart to the Traffic Engineer who is always yelling, throwing temper tantrums when things don’t go his way,...

SUMMERS: Kids make ideal adults

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Elmhurst Elementary school student London Mills, 5, dances during a ECU women's basketball game Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Outside the walls of Minges Coliseum on Thursday morning, the country waded through another criticism-laced, tirade-filled day of political firestorm, racial unrest and sexual assault allegation.

But the anger, protest and divisiveness across the great divide could not find a seat amid the 5,300 gleaming, screaming kids who made their annual convergence on East Carolina's basketball home. No negativity or judgment was given a voice despite the ear-splitting volume in the gym for the yearly Education Day game.

The ECU women posted an impressive 73-61 win over visiting N.C. Central in the 11:30 a.m. tipoff in which even the visitors' baskets were applauded by many.

Kids just don't know any better, and that was a welcome change for a few precious hours.

They cheered – shrieked – at everything, good and bad, including made shots, missed shots, dives to the floor for loose balls and most certainly for Pee Dee, whose mascot skills have never been more admired.

The players, coaches and officials kept their game faces on, mostly, but sometimes they too got caught smiling at the non-stop activity in the stands around them. No one shouted at them for their mistakes.

When easily the best basketball rendition of the national anthem ECU fans have heard this season cascaded across the coliseum prior to the game, kids of different ages, sexes and races stood en masse, many with hands across hearts.

A couple of hours later, a similarly diverse group of boys sat with arms around each other, swaying back and forth to music and not thinking twice about it.

As a collective unit of kids, all of them spent the roughly two hours watching, dancing, singing, eating and appreciating absolutely everything.

After the anthem ended, they roared in approval. When the lights went down for ECU's starting lineup, they brought the house down with sound. When the Pirates took their first shot, scored their first basket, took their first lead … you get the point.

They rushed to slap hands with passing cheerleaders, shouted out the lyrics to every song during timeouts and never once booed. A brief “air ball” chant after an N.C. Central miss seemed to silence itself without any teacher assistance, and a brief, somewhat eager and disjointed wave made its way around the stands at one point.

Like all kids, they mimicked a good deal of what they see adults doing at games, including keeping the concession stand workers operating at a fever pitch. “Is that free popcorn? Is that free popcorn?” one kid repeatedly asked as I made my way past one of the food hubs on my way into the arena.

I laughed for the first of countless times.

After the game, the ECU players were treated like celebrities when they went into the stands to greet fans, creating an unmistakably wistful feeling of wishing it could always be like this.

But like most of life outside the walls, rare moments or hours like these must be used counteract the bad or maybe be used as a reminder of how to be good.

No kidding, Thursday's audience could do wonders as adults.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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