January 19, 2014
My boys eat, sleep and breathe basketball, and I must say, from an observational standpoint, basketball is my favorite as well. They both play on their school’s little league teams, and they are both quite talented, if I do say so myself. This year has been bittersweet, as the youngest is on a fantastic team that has great chemistry together, and a fantastic coach. They have defeated their opponents by margins in the double digits on most occasions and only suffered one loss. That’s the sweet part. The bitter part is the oldest has been on a team that is the polar opposite. His team consists of one kid who never gives up the ball, my son, and 4 others that could care less if they are on the court or not. They fight and argue constantly, their coach doesn’t want to coach, and their season ended yesterday with a record of 1-9, Sadly, their losses were never even close and yesterday’s final score was 52-12.
Last week my youngest played a scrimmage game at a neighboring school in another district. Upon entering their facility and paying $10 admission charges for the other 3 of us (Seriously, who changes admission for a 3rd grade scrimmage???) we found there was no seating. Upon the request of several parents a set of disgusting bleachers was let out of a wall. Obviously they weren’t cleaned after the previous use and there was clothing, water bottles, toys, and assorted trash consistent with an elementary school gym. (I realize that the last couple of sentences were very unnecessary, but I’m just setting the scene. LOL) We emerged victorious and once we were in the confines of our car my son said, “Mama, those boys were using the f-word, they were saying all the other bad words, and they called us the n-word”. The last part strikes me as particularly ironic because our team is 8/9 causcasian-and although we do have one African-American player, he wasn’t there that night. Their team on the other hand was 7/8 African-American. Part of me is shocked and angered me that 3rd and 4th graders are allowed to use this language and no parent, coach, or referee bothers to correct their behavior. The other part of me hopes that one day, one of them gets their own cooking show, and I can make some spending money by selling a tell all interview to People where I recount their use of racial slurs directed a team of innocent white boys decades before.
My next basketball story is more sweet than disturbing/funny. Yesterday my youngest’s team won the first game in our local tournament by a rather hefty margin, and played the second game later in the day. The latter game was a better matchup, and was very physical with the score staying within a point or 2 for the majority of the time. The crowd was full of nervous parents on the edge of their seats (as I mentioned before, our team is not accustomed to losing) and I daresay it was the most intense 3rd and 4th grade basketball game ever. In the final 6 seconds our team was up by 1, with the other team having possession of the ball. There was a scuffle, boys were on the floor, the opponent was calling for a time out and the referee closest was not hearing (or choosing not to hear). The buzzer sounded and then one referee’s whistle blew. The referees and coaches met in front of the scorers table. The players on the court gathered near the coaches and officials, followed by the players on the bench. Were they going to call a foul on one of our boys-which would allow the other team 2 shots and potentially victory or overtime? Were they going to allow the time out our opponent was calling and put time back on the clock? If so could the opponent set up and execute a play in which they score in less than 6 seconds and our tournament dreams are dashed? All eyes were on the congregation at mid court, and we were all waiting anxiously for the outcome of the conversation. Time stood still. Eventually, my mothers eyes shifted elsewhere on the court, where an injured player for the opposing team lay hurt (remember when I said it was physical and there was scuffling in the last 6 seconds?). He was out there all alone. His injury unknown to his coach, team, and seemingly even to his parents, as they were all focused on what the officials determination would be. My mom got my attention, and I was able to witness my son walk over to this young man, his “enemy” on the court, and talk to him and console him. Eventually one of my son’s teammates noticed too, and together they helped the young man on to his feet, talking to him and patting him on the back. Ignoring the discussion regarding the fate of the game, and their season, they went to the aid of another child in need while the rest of his own team and coaching staff was oblivious to the fact that he was laying on the court. Eventually the referees announced that no fouls occurred, there would be no time out, and the game was over with our team victorious by one point. Hands were shook at mid court between both teams and coaches, and as we were walking out my son sought out the kids on the opposing team to tell them that they played a good game and try to lift their spirits. At the end of the day, I was proud of my sons 6 points in that game, after all, without those points our season would be over, but I was even more proud of his sportsmanship. In a world where trash talking permeates and profanities and racial slurs on the court are commonplace for 3rd graders, I am proud of my son for being a amazing example of how boys should act.