Acts of Kindness
Middle school football team performs act of kindness for classmate during game
Lives were changed because of their actions.
Kate Miano
08.05.21

Back in 2013, one of the all-time greatest school sports-related acts of kindness happened. The Olivet Eagles, a Michigan-based middle school football team, planned and executed an act of kindness that came at a great cost to them: they lost their football game.

This sacrifice is so amazing, that we’re still thinking about it today. Read on for the full story.

The Olivet Eagles deliberately lost their football game.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

At one of the games in the season, all of the players in the Olivet Eagles hatched a secret plan to help out a classmate by losing their football game. They took it upon themselves to plan and execute everything, thinking each step through over weeks. They didn’t even tell their coaches what they were about to do.

They took pretty drastic measures to ensure everything would go according to plan.

The players agreed to try to get as close to the goal as they could, without scoring. That means that even when they were as close as the one-yard line, they would rather take a dive than score. These moves certainly heightened the tension for the crowd, but the players knew what they were doing the whole time.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

But deliberately losing was only step one in their plan.

Their deliberate losing actually had a really sweet motivation.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

One of their teammates, Keith Orr, is a special needs student. He became a big part of the school community in part because of his habit of hugging just about anyone. His classmates all cared for him, and particularly the football players.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

One of his teammates explained to CBS’ Steve Hartman:

“We really wanted to prove that he was a part of our team and that he meant something to us.”

Because of Keith’s different abilities, he had never scored a touchdown before and was struggling to feel like he really belonged in the team. With the next step in their plan, his fellow players attempted to disprove that.

It was only time to score when Keith had the ball.

After spending most of the game losing, the rest of the team huddled around Keith. The play started at the one-yard line, and Keith had the ball. When the ref blew their whistle, all the Eagles players surrounded Keith protectively, so that he would be able to make it into the end zone without any interference from the other team.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

Ultimately, Keith scored his first touchdown, ever. It’s a pretty exciting moment to see, as it is pretty rare to score a touchdown, and Keith had never done that before. His descriptions of the experience? “Awesome!”

Keith’s parents were ecstatic.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

Not only because their son scored a touchdown. They were also overwhelmed by the kind actions of the football team as a whole. For Keith’s parents, this act of kindness made them even more sure that Keith would continue to have a wonderful experience at his school. His mother said:

“Somebody’s always going to have his back. From now, until the day he graduates.”

The football player’s actions made Keith happy, they made Keith’s parents happy, but they also made themselves happy.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

All the players who were involved in helping Keith score that touchdown experienced some profound feelings once they saw their plan succeed.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Evening News

One of the players in particular teared up recalling the impact that football game had on him. He noticed change in himself, saying:

“I kind of went from being someone who mostly cared about myself and my friends, to caring about everyone, and trying to make everyone’s day, and everyone’s life.”

Hear more of the story in the video below.

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By Kate Miano
hi@sbly.com
Kate Miano is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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