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Saturday, January 28, 2006

I got a little overexcited while I was watching D.J.ís basketball team play today, because I could see they had a chance to win.

Itís a good thing the kids couldnít hear me yelling at them. They donít even hear their coach telling them where to go and where to stand, so obviously anything shouted from the opposite sideline isnít likely to penetrate the fog. Besides, theyíre too busy chatting with each other and fooling around to care. Which of course is the problem (my problem, not theirs, because they donít care).

They didnít win. They took an eight-point lead in the third quarter, 20-12, which is amazing considering the fact they hadnít led by more than two points in any other game theyíve played all season. They didnít know they were leading, or what the score was, or anything else about the game except which basket they were supposed to be shooting at. Thatís the one variable they managed to keep straight for once.

The other team scored ten straight points to take a two-point lead late in the game. Our kids came back with a last minute basket that gave them a 22-22 tie, which is how the game ended. At least, thatís how I saw it. I donít know what the official scorerís guess was, but I was watching fairly closely. At least it was the first time they didnít lose (I think).

The problem is that they have two teams. The starters play with the kind of fiery intensity you love to see in six-year-olds, and there are a couple of kids who have a strong feeling for the game and know what theyíre supposed to do. Itís a pleasure to watch them because they do things the right way (although without the skill and control theyíll have when theyíre older).

And then there is the second time, the reserves, the non-starters. The half of the team that D.J. plays on. This group often looks as if it would rather be picking daisies than playing basketball, and thatís pretty much the way the game goes when theyíre in. Most of the time itís comical, but the contrast was almost a little too much for me today.

Thatís why I was yelling. Get back! Guard him! Go to the ball! Get open!. These are all things theyíve worked on in practice, so Iím not out of line thinking they should have a little better idea of what theyíre supposed to do. They should have been doing it without anyone yelling at them.

Were they having fun? Of course. Do they know how frustrating it can be to watch them play the way they do? Of course not. My comment to D.J. after the game was the same as always. ďGood game.Ē And he did make an effort at times, when he thought about it, when he wasnít distracting himself with something totally unrelated, when he didnít have his hands in his pockets. He got a couple of big rebounds and dribbled up the court better than Iíve seen him do before.

So it wasnít a disaster, and Iím happy with the progress he and his teammates are making. Theyíre worlds better than they were when the season started. Itís just that I think they could be even better, and would probably have more fun if they tried to stay focused on what theyíve been taught by their coach.

But thatís my problem, and I know it. What Iím really saying is that I would have more fun if they played that way, and thereís no reason they should care about that.

18 January 2006

Red and black cloud.

Kylie watched the game without making any comments. I guess she has a little more patience than I do, or maybe she knows her brother well enough to appreciate his efforts without judgment. Aiden spent most of the game marching up and down the sidelines, entertaining the troops. When he got a laugh jumping up in the air and landing square on his little round bottom, he had to be distracted from doing it over and over. It might not have hurt him, but it was painful for the rest of us to watch.

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I feel the need for a disclaimer here, so that no one thinks Iím shallow enough to believe six-year-olds should be playing to win. I see two different games being played, one by the players on the court, who only want the ball either in their hands or going through the basket, and the other by those of us watching along the sidelines, who want the same things, basically. Itís just that itís easier to see from the sidelines what the players should be doing than it is for the kids on the court to see the same thing.

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