The opposing team all were wearing yarmulkes, except for the two huge black boys who could not possibly be in middle school. It was game three of way too many for one summer, and the high school gym, where these boys dream of playing for real one day soon, was soupy.
The last buzzer sounded and as the gym began to clear I leaned over to David and whispered, “This is when you politely ask the parents to ‘give you a minute’ with the team and rip every single one of those boys a new one. But what do I know, I don’t know anything about basketball.”
I don’t know anything about basketball, but I do know when people are phoning it in, and I know when the adults have abdicated to kid-rule. I am beginning to think that “Oh, you’re going to LOOOVE the coaches! They’re so nice!” is mom-code for “Your child will not be pushed, and no one will make them feel bad by correcting their bad sportsmanship and poor manners.”
I wish I was talking about the opposing team, but I am not.
If only the two boys who play the entire game EVERY SINGLE TIME were asked to actually run down the court when they are given the ball (which is always).
If only they would actually look at where their teammates are before chunking the ball half-heartedly somewhere away from themselves.
If only there were more than three of the eight of them willing to actually RUN AT THE BASKET, breeze past the flailing arms of potential foulers, and take a fucking shot.
If only they were told, in no uncertain terms, that they would be shaking hands and making eye-contact, at the very least, when they congratulate the other team at the end of the game.
If only someone would worry more about building a team rather than taking a time-out every 7 minutes to make yet another sketch of the play the kids are supposed to be running. A play which does not seem to be working for them, at all. Like never. It was so predictable last night that the other team seemed to be shaking their heads about it, as if they regretted stealing the ball from the same lazy kid, half-heartedly running the same unsuccessful play every.single.time.
David kept forgetting that we were the “orange team” and started clapping for the “black team.” Except for the four minutes Matt played. He looked terrified. He is the only 6th grader on the team, and these boys are a terrible example. We’ve had to come down hard on him about his attitude.
After the game, Matt described the other team’s play as “beautiful.” He was in total admiration of the team who, despite coke bottle glasses, double hearing aids, and the glare off their sisters’ barrettes holding their yarmulkes in place, beat them like a native drum circle. Good. He should be.
I don’t know anything about basketball, but I know a team of winners when I see one. They were passionate–which is what made them better. They moved widely and freely, and owned the space like a 26-year-old owns their first home. Matt was right, it was beautiful. What if our schools felt that way? Our people? Our government?
I’d settle for my son and his team moving in that direction.