Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reflections of a basketball mom

Between practices three to four days a week, and games twice a week, we've been doing the basketball life around here since November. We've been so happy with the coaching our two sons have received; these men are kind, considerate, competitive gentlemen. They are fine role models for boys, and we cannot believe what an unexpected blessing they are to our family. It's been fun to meet new boys and their families; we've lived here for almost twenty-one years, but we continue to meet interesting and pleasant folks from pockets here and there across our county.

It's not all been a picnic, though. We've watched the behavior of coaches and players and fans that has been so offensive, and it has been hard for me to shake it off. My husband, player of baseball from Little League through freshman year at University of Oregon, and coach and referee of a bazillion games since then, tells me I need to My sons look at each other and share that, "Mom is making tooooo big a deal here" look. But it DOES bother me, and it is SO wrong. I have no objection to enthusiastic fan participation; I am, after all, the mother whose son has asked her to cheer just a little bit quieter. I try, but I am still pretty loud. So it is not the enthusiastic yelling I am concerned about. It is the swearing at the refs. By parents. At a game played by third and fourth graders. THIRD AND FOURTH GRADERS. Good grief. And then there was the subtle kick of a nine-year-old after the game. Oh, and the bump and the swearing as the players went through the "high five, nice game" line at the Christian high school game. And it was certainly the flipping of a finger gesture to a nine-year-old after a game. By a third or fourth grader.

I know it is not easy to lose by big numbers. We've been on that side of the court at some high school games this year. No one likes to lose. But in a game someone has to lose each and every time. And certainly we want our children to learn to lose with graciousness. Right? RIGHT?

And it is true that refs don't catch each and every foul. The lack of foul calling is especially purposeful in the younger games; the clock does not stop unless there is a free throw opportunity. If the refs called every foul, we would have a game played on the sidelines; as soon as the ball hit the court they would be back on the side again. Plus, big surprise: refs are human; they make mistakes. We can only hope that the mistakes are evenly dispersed between the teams. But any team worthy of playing the game has to deal with human refs. Quit fussing. Quit complaining. Play the game.

Based on the enjoyment the boys have of the game, their skill and the commitment they have shown, I will be on many a bleacher in the years to come. I need to find a way to conquer my intense dislike of the response others have. We have not seen the last example of ridiculous adult and child behavior. We have not heard our last swear word spoken loudly and rudely. We will win games and lose games, and the refs will bravely do their duties, for good or for ill. It will be a good, hard exercise for all of us.

As Mr. Darcy says, "I will conquer this!"

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