Friday, September 20, 2013

A Hope for My Sons if They Play Sports

I work as a college professor and many days I go to the campus gym to run on the track (because it's too damn hot in Texas to run three miles outside still). Today I noticed a bunch of folks scrimmaging on the basketball court and realized that it was day 2 of men's basketball try outs.

If there is a sport I love, it is basketball (followed far off by football then hockey...then baseball is very far away). My Dad taught me the rules for most sports as a kid - he really wanted a boy to watch sports with so if I wanted to hang with Dad, I had to learn sports. From him I learned not only the rules, but the "etiquette" of that sport, if you will. And things like teamwork. Look for the open (wo)man closest to the goal. Don't showboat. Be a team player, not the jackass who plays for "all eyes on me."

Leave the ego here.
As I ran, I watched these (19 year old-ish) kids playing and got really frustrated. I know this is tryouts. This is the time to show you have skills, I get that. But when you bring the ball down the court, see an open man by the goal, and still stop at the line for the 3 (which you brick), that doesn't make me want to pick you for the team. It makes me want to kick your ass out of tryouts and let someone else play - maybe they can use their teammates to score as a team. Or maybe they can at least pause and check their options before attempting the Look At Me shot.

And there wasn't just one or two of these showboaters. Three of the guys on each "team" played for Team Me. The others were getting frustrated. Wouldn't you? If you're not a guard, if you're not a ball handler, then you're getting ignored even if you're open and have a shot. B.S.

IF my boys want to play basketball. IF they have the coordination (they're going to be tall so they may not). I hope that I'm able to practice with them and show them how useful an effective team is. Now, don't get me wrong. They will be practicing their skills drills. Layups, non-dominant hand dribbling, freethrows, 3s, crossovers, and obvious defensive moves will be just like at my Dad's hand (stay outside until you can MAKE [not take] X number of freethrows). But we'll also watch effective teams and talk about why they're effective as a team. Most sports are not a one man party. Unless you're playing golf. But that's not a party (I kid). I hope that if they decide to play a sport that they play for love of game instead of love of self.

And of course I will be in the stands screaming "GO ANDREW!" (inside joke if you went to Bourne High School football games in the early 90s) but if my kids decide to showboat, you know who the first person to chastise them about being humble is going to be. This Mama.

Did you play sports as a kid? What do you hope to pass on to your children?