Last night we decided to try something different and head over to the kids’ school to attend a girls varsity basketball game. Though the kids aren’t really in to basketball, we figured it’s a free night of entertainment, it’s different, and it gets us out of the house.
Now, let me preface that our kids attend a private school. We chose it this year over our local public school primarily because of class size and curriculum, and wanted to make as smooth a transition for our kids as possible. We’ll see where next year lands us.
Back to our regularly scheduled program. It’s my understanding that our school has a no-cut policy. If you want to be on the team, you’re on the team. Such a bonus for my 2nd percentile, coordination-challenged son, but it probably stinks for those kids who have a high athletic aptitude.
Up to this point, the only experience we’ve had with our kids and sports are the U-6 soccer and tee-ball teams we’ve participated in. The teams are a broad range of kids who will land college athletic scholarships and those that might attend ITT.
My son, as great of a team player as he is, isn’t that great at soccer. But who cares? He’s having fun, and I absolutely love watching him cheer on his teammates as he runs down the field. Though he’s not a star, he certainly has those great Captain qualities. His coaches were stern yet supportive, and they knew my son’s strength and weaknesses. They encouraged him to be more aggressive, but didn’t rip him a new one if he was too busy picking grass off his shirt to block a goal.
So you can imagine my astonishment, sitting in the bleachers last night, observing the craziness that is high school sports. People were getting so worked up about the referee’s calls. The opposing teams’ coach spent quite a bit of time in the first half stomping up and down the court side, peacocking around like John McNamara and blowing a gasket.
A dad sat two rows behind me, videotaping his daughter while spewing off a running commentary of the things she was doing well and the things she sucked at, being sure to whip out “Thatta girl” when his daughter elbowed an opponent as she struggled to grab the ball from her.
Just when I thought things had calmed down, someone’s grandfather walked out ON TO THE COURT to give the referee a piece of his mind, having to finally be escorted from the building. All of this? It made me extremely uncomfortable.
And these are some of the smallest schools in the area. Seriously? Is this the state of high school athletics these days? It wasn’t as if any of these girls looked like the next LeBron James. So what gives? Was it like this when I was in high school, and I was just so preoccupied with dance that I didn’t notice?
Perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to the Three Stooges quality of my son’s soccer games. Sure, there are kids on the field that could give Beckham’s kids a run for their money. And believe me, there are parents that attend the games that lose their shit there too.
But half those kids would sprint through a Parent Tunnel if it was still an opportunity at the end of the game.
And, no, that doesn’t mean I agree that we should be giving out medals like they’re Halloween candy, or that we shouldn’t support our kids athletic abilities and encourage them to do their best. But let’s keep it civil, shall we?
Growing up as a dancer, the competition was a little more underground, not so out in the open. No one’s mom scrambled up on stage and started screaming “FOUL!” at the teacher during a recital.
Though I’m sure those nut job Dance Moms studios exist out there, I wasn’t exposed to it. Dance was a great combination of individual goal-setting with ensemble interaction. It was an opportunity to take class with my friends, wear some sparkly costumes at the recital, and go to McDonald’s after it was all over. While the crowds were less enthusiastic then they were at the basketball game last night, there was also less tension.
So, how do you encourage your kids to do their best, but not let them get sucked in to that Alpha-dog mentality? Do you let your kids compete in team sports, knowing that there will always be the parent that takes things too far?
If you ask me, you’re never to old to run through a human tunnel. Never.
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