Blind football player’s debut causes huge stir

By Rob Vogt Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/6 23:28:40

Far too often, sports fans get bogged down in negative stories about misbehaving athletes, cheating coaches, clueless owners and so on. But every so often, a positive story comes along that lifts the human spirit - just ask Jake Olson.

On Saturday Olson, a sophomore at the University of Southern California (USC), entered the game to serve as the long snapper for USC's final extra point try of the day. The kick was good, capping the Trojans' 49-31 win. Ordinarily, a successful extra point try in an 18-point victory wouldn't be a big deal. On Saturday, it was.

Olson is blind, having lost his vision to retinoblastoma at age 12. So being able to step foot on a football field - even for only a single play - was a huge deal. The LA Coliseum crowd gave him a rousing ovation, and afterward Olson said, "It was an awesome feeling, something that I will remember forever."

Lost in the shuffle is the fact that early in the week, amid the chaos of game preparation, USC coach Clay Helton reached out to Western Michigan coach Tim Lester. Generally speaking, major college football coaches don't allow anything to interfere with their scheming and strategy - certainly not a collaborative effort with their upcoming opponent, something that could potentially dull their competitive edge.

Not only did Helton reach out to Lester, but the two men also agreed to work together to give Olson this moment. In exchange, Helton's Trojans agreed not to attempt to block the extra point after Western Michigan's first touchdown. Football coaches are among the most competitive people in all of sports, so agreeing to "take a play off" was a huge concession for both men.

In the grand scheme of USC's national championship aspirations, a single extra point snap in the season's opening game probably won't matter much. Just don't try telling that to Olson - or anyone who saw him play on Saturday.

The author is a Chicago-based freelance writer. robvogtwriting@gmail.com


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