First off, I'm sorry. It wasn't until the ref awarded me the pinfall and the chorus of boos washed over me in the Ramsey High School auditorium that I realize how badly I ruined Scooter's feel-good moment. Now that I see it, I feel awful.
I love Scooter. All the seniors do. Attending a public high school with cerebral palsy as bad as Scooter's is a challenge far greater than any opponent I'd ever face on the mat. When Scooter's mother said it was his dream to join the wrestling team, I thought, “man, Scooter's so brave.” Let the record show when Scooter showed up to practice, I was the first one to give him a high five.
When Scooter's mom said Scooter just wanted to wrestle one match, I thought, “man, Scooter's an inspiration.” Here's a guy where every day living is hard enough, yet he wants to put on the singlet and get down in the referee’s position.” While you usually have to wrestle JV first to prove you belong on varsity, Coach and all the guys agreed that Scooter had more than earned his letter.
When Scooter came to practice and said he wanted me as his opponent – I'm man enough to admit that I cried. Multiple guys heard me say that I'd be honored than to lock up with 'ol Scoot and roll around. When Coach said we were gonna wrestle at the homecoming meet, the team all made shirts in Scooter's honor. Heck, we even made Scooter honorary team captain. I told at least three people that day how awesome I thought Scooter was. If anyone would intentionally spoil Scooter's feel-good moment, it sure wouldn't be me.
I'll repeat what I said at the special assembly Principal Vickers had the day after the meet – I genuinely thought the feel-good moment would be when I pinned Scooter after he put on a good effort. I mean, It's not like I went out there and took him down immediately. I faked a back and forth. Heck, I even let 'ol Scott score a takedown on me. But yeah, I beat him clean and decisively. Could I have dragged it out a little longer? Maybe. Could I have shown a little bit better sportsmanship? Of course. When the adrenaline is flowing, regardless of your opponent, you're gonna immediately pump your fists and point to last year's state championship banner. I totally deserve some heat for that one. But I'm not crazy for thinking Scooter's real victory was a moral one, like Rocky, rather than an actual one, like the other Rockys.
I resent the front page article in this week's Ramsey High School “Fling,” which calls me, among other things, a “snake,” a “rotten jock who crushes the human spirit with glee,” a “world-class bully with boundless cruelty,” and most upsettingly, “...certainly not comparable to in his deeds, but Hitler-esque in his thoughts and beliefs.” Come on. The kid has cerebral palsy. He's not stupid. He knows in a fair contest I could beat him. Heck, I could beat ol' Scoot with one arm tied behind my back. Isn't letting Scooter win a little condescending? The “Fling” headline should read, “Hero Lets Cripple Experience World For What It Really Is.”
Does Scooter deserve to win? Of course. I can't imagine the pain and tragedy of his everyday existence. After Scooter's mom shoved me in the parking lot, she told me it takes him upwards of twenty minutes just to tie his shoes. That makes me real sad. But I train my butt off every day. I fluctuate my weight dangerously just so a bunch of middle class white people can have something to believe in. Don't I deserve to win, too?
How did we get here? How did Michael Douglas and Robert Duval arrive at their climatic showdown at the end of Falling Down? Am I really the bad guy? When Scooter spit on me and called me a motherfucker, I asked myself that question long and hard. But the answer is no, I am not. So Penn State can rescind their scholarship offer and Chris Hardwick can use me as a punchline on @midnight – my convictions are stronger than any barb from the Nerdist Podcast Network. And whenever Scooter feels up for the rematch, he knows where to find me – in my parent's basement, because I'm home-schooled now.