Inventing "The Cylie Rule"

People always ask CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman what makes a good story. A dog that goes to school is a good story. It's not this story, but it would be a good one.

Another good one is any story that renews your faith in human kindness. And that story did just board the bus.

It takes place in De Smet, S.D., and it began nearly two years ago with a bump on Cylie Pastian's right leg. That bump turned out to be bone cancer. There were weeks of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, and worst of all …

"I guess not being at school very much," Cylie said.

"I'm sorry, I must have misunderstood," Hartman said. "I thought you said I missed going to school."

Cylie said, yeah, "I missed going to school."

Not so much the work, of course, as the friends … and especially the basketball.

This fifth grader loved basketball. Unfortunately, her leg got so fragile, doctors wouldn't allow her any physical contact. All she could do was keep the stats and yell.

According to one of her classmates: "Yeah, she would really cheer."

"Yeah, you could see her on the sidelines just smiling from ear from ear," a friend said.

As Cylie said: "I don't know, it just made me feel better - still felt like I was part of it."

A part of it - but for her friends and coaches, not part enough. They still wanted her to play.

But outside of changing the very rules of the game, there was just no way to guarantee Cylie's safety. Which is why they changed the very rules of the game.

Not long ago, the kids and coaches asked for, and got, the "Cylie Rule," which basically says that when there's a foul, anyone recovering from bone cancer is allowed to check into the game to shoot her team's free throws.

What do the other players think of the new rule? One said: "I think it's really nice."

There wasn't anybody that said, "I want to shoot my own free throws?"

"No," the kids said.

"I made eight in a row once!" Cylie said.

It's just a small gesture for one little girl in one tiny town. And yet it makes you rethink what kids' athletics is all about. At least it did here.

As Cylie's classmates said: "I think it brought us closer together. We're all like sisters. We're a big family."

So, who won the game? Cylie's team did … before it ever started.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.