When Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal Sunday that cost the Minnesota Vikings a chance to advance in the playoffs, many took it as an opportunity to display outrage and vulgarity and spew hatred.
First-grade teacher Judie Offerdahl of Northpoint Elementary in Blaine, Minnesota took a more proactive approach, using Walsh's excruciating experience as a chance to teach her students about empathy.
"I knew that Mr. Walsh probably felt horrible about it," Offerdahl told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Tuesday. "I also knew it would be a good teachable moment for the kids."
The messages to Walsh were amazing:
"Dear Blair Walsh," Sophia Doffin said, reading her message to the class. "I know that it can be hard to get through things that are sad. but you have to try and try again. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. One time I made a mistake when I was doing a cartwheel. I felt embarrassed. You can still help the Vikings win the Super Bowl next year. Your fan, Sophia Doffin.
"P.S.: You are the best kicker that I know.
"P.P.S.: I hope you win the Super Bowl this year.
"P.P.P. S.: I am really a big fan of you.
"P.P.P.P.S.: I love the Vikings."
Fantastic. Kids rock.
"We talked about when in your life have you made a mistake and how do you think he felt?" Offerdahl, a Seahawks fan, said. "We also talked about how you pick yourself up like Mr. Walsh did."
Empathy is something we are never too young to embrace and never too old to employ. Hopefully more fans around the country will remember these children when the next gut-wrenching play occurs in these playoffs.
UPDATE: Walsh paid a visit to the class on Thursday and thanked the children for their support.