Girls from Columbus and Burke High Schools played a basketball game Monday night.
Columbus outscored Omaha Burke, 62-47.
The Burke girls still won. They learned a lesson for life: There are more important things than the final score.
Their effort in raising more than $2,600 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation — which helps make wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions — was a more significant accomplishment than adding a W to their season record.
Burke's girls, wearing special pink uniforms, played well and led by one point at halftime. The fundraiser was organized by Bulldogs assistant coach Tom Law, who runs a youth basketball organization that annually chooses a charity to support. He bought the uniforms, which were to be auctioned off after the game.
Before the third quarter began, Columbus coach Dave Licari discussed the uniforms with game officials, who called a technical foul on Burke for violating a rule requiring the home team's uniforms to be predominantly white. A Columbus player sank both free throws, and the Discoverers then went on to win the game.
OK, rules are rules. And with Burke planning to wear pink jerseys, Columbus should have been told in advance.
But so what?
Isn't the rule designed to make certain there's a contrast between uniforms? The teams played an entire half without any confusion between the host Bulldogs' light pink and the visitors' maroon.
If jersey color were really a problem, the issue should have been raised before the game began. That way, Columbus even could have done what's reportedly happened in similar situations elsewhere — intentionally missed the free throws and then played the game.
Players on both teams played hard. Burke's athletic director and head coach accepted responsibility for not notifying Columbus. Law, the Bulldogs assistant, called it "a learning experience for us all."
But this incident raises questions about more than what happened on the court.
What about sportsmanship? The old ideal still means something: It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
What about common sense? This wasn't rule-breaking to gain a competitive advantage. No harm, no foul.
And what about the biggest issue of all? The pink jerseys were a way to help others. For that, the Burke team should be applauded.
The World-Herald is applauding the girls with a $1,000 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. If you would like to contribute, too, send it to:
Make-A-Wish Foundation of Nebraska
11926 Arbor Street, Suite 102
Omaha, NE 68144
On the check's memo line, write "PINK" or "Burke Girls Pink Uniforms."
That way, no matter what the scoreboard said, the Burke girls will always know they are winners.