16 March 2011


It is very late. We played a double-header for the championship. Then I waited 90 minutes for Two to be done with play practice. We just finished his homework. I am tired and want to go to bed, so this is the best I can do.


I promise a better post tomorrow.

Okay, it's tomorrow.

I was going to leave the post as-is, but I wanted to write about what happened yesterday. Not the statistical details; rather, the emotional ones.
The Captain began his day by writing to the head coach of the opposing team. I could paraphrase, but I'll just transcribe:

"A mildly unorthodox request. I'd like 30 seconds to address both teams before tonight's game if you'll give me the courtesy.
No hidden agenda or secret strategy.
I'd like to tell them both how terrific they have played to get this far.
I want to say the team that played better (and perhaps the better team) won the game last night.
That the coaches or refs are not going to win or lose the game for them.
They should be proud of how much they've accomplished. That winning is important, but that winning with sportsmanship is more important.
They are not playing against Randolph or Roxbury - but against their own friends and classmates.
That if the white team wins I can't wait to congratulate them and if we win - can't wait to play game 3.
Anyway - it's what I am going to say to my group. Just to go out, have fun, play hard, and most importantly treat each other with respect."

The opposing coach declined the Captain's offer to speak, but that's what he told Three's team, anyway.

The assistant coach for the "white team", was working in Three's school yesterday. We see him often at sporting events. He's a nice guy. He took a moment to talk to Three about how his own son used to get upset, like Three, when the game got frustrating. Three says he told him, "If you can let all that emotion roll off you, not let it upset you, then you're going to beat us. You're a great player, and when you learn to control your feelings, you're going to be even better." It gave Three a boost, and it was a nice example of good coaching.

For the most part, I think dads become coaches to help their own children. But if you stay a coach, it is because you want to help all the children. It's a volunteer position, and it incurs more wrath than love. You have to gain satisfaction not just in the winning, but in the teaching. Especially as the boys get older, good coaches, or bad, can have a tremendous impact on a young man's life. They can really boost, or degrade, self-esteem.

Three has had both varieties, and the bad coaches have made me seriously consider abandoning team sports. But there is a motivating lesson buried in the wretched experiences, as well. I call it the "Fuck You" lesson, and I got to explain it to Three last fall. It teaches one to take all the negativity, all the doubt, all the criticism from a coach and throw it in their face by succeeding, despite their complete dickiness. It's a precursor to what I learned in adulthood: the "I Don't Need To Be Friends With Everyone" lesson. Three's too young to understand the subtlety of that one, but I did adapt the "Fuck You" for basketball. I told him to imagine all the negative emotion flowing through him, like water through a sieve, so it couldn't slow him down. I told him every time he wanted to get angry about a call, he should laugh instead. During the game, I saw him smiling more times than not on the court, but not just to camouflage his anger. I think he was having a good time.

Last night, everyone was much more relaxed. The parents and coaches were generally well-behaved, and the kids played with less vitriol. Our team won the first game handily, which set up the tie-breaker. All the players were tired (notice the low score), and the final was really decided by free throws. At the end, the handshakes seemed genuine, and, although the white team was understandably disappointed, no one was angry. Neither one of the teams was top-seeded in the tournament, so it was a testament to their hard work that they each made it to the final. I was proud of our guys, especially Three and my Captain. And, a little bit of my faith in team sports was restored.


  1. Anonymous16.3.11

    Totally plenty!
    (Love the non-fail today.)

  2. Congratulations. Is that Skeletor in the bottom center of the pic?

    Love the song lyrics...one of my faves. Not allowed to play it for the class though. Says the word "naked". Sigh.

  3. YAY!!!!! A win AND a non-failure day. Here's to more of the same.

    I must say, you introduce me to more recording artists that I've never heard of and I love them. This one lyric in particular.

    Hope you got sufficient sleep. Love and hugs to you 'wonder woman'.

  4. Congratulations to the winners! Also, Yay for Dr. Suess!

  5. Well, so much for brevity, y'all. Now you have more to read.

    @Lora: this is one of my favorite songs, although I haven't heard it in awhile. When I pick a lyric, it usually pertains to the first post of the week. In this case, I was thinking about how my boy had grown up, and there was no turning back time. Also, the whole laboring thing is about breathing (although I recommend drugs, if possible).
    What I've found is that the lyric somehow ends up applying to all the posts. This week I had to remind myself to breathe after that first game. It's a chicken or egg thing- I don't know which influences the other.
    Finally, that is not Skeletor, although that would be a bold statement for a middle-school gymnasium. "Work out, or die!" It's the head of a baseball player. I had to crop to eliminate the kids below the scoreboard.

  6. @Julie: I was pretty happy with the non-fail, too. I wore my "Thing One" shirt that my mom just sent, so bonus points for me! The Captain got "Thing Two," which is an accurate description of the order of things here. Well, it would be more truthful if we had "Thing Six" and "Thing Seven" but I don't think they make those.

  7. @Delia: I read "The Thinks You Can Think" and the kids liked the end best. The words swirl around and I had to turn the whole book in a circle to read it. Of course, I was trying to send a broader message about creativity and freedom, but twisty words are good, too.

  8. That was a nice gesture on the part of the "white" coach. I remember to this day the Nice Coach and the Jerk Coach from the one and only season I played childhood soccer.


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