Monday, April 03, 2006

It's Just A Game

The question was innocent enough: “Who are we playing?” DD#2 asked. When I told her, all she said, very quietly, was, “Oh.” Their opponent is one of the toughest basketball teams in the league—a team DD#2’s school has yet to beat since they started playing in 3rd Grade.

The rest of DD#2’s team had the same reaction. And the game was pretty much the blowout we all expected. To their credit, DD#2 and her team did not roll over and die. They kept them running and kept their opponent busy as they passed, stole, and guarded vigorously.

The biggest problem with our school is historically they haven’t been able to shoot. I’m not sure why our school is so bad at it, but we are. And if you can’t make baskets, you can’t win. The players are also shuffled randomly between the two teams each year, so we don’t have an “A” team and a “B” team. And the girls have to relearn how to “read” their teammates each year.

The games begin with the teams joining hands in a circle, alternating players, and saying The Our Father. Then one of the coaches gives a little speech to the parents: “Let the kids play, the refs ref, and let the spectators spectate.” Even though this is CYO and we’re playing in the gym of a Catholic school, some of the parents can be less than Christian. Hubs and I happened to talk to the dad of one of the players from the opposing team. We complemented his daughter and her team on their high level of play. He told us about the game they recently played against one of the other powerhouses. It was a nail-biter, with the two teams trading the lead, and the girls giving the game their all. Afterwards, though, he couldn’t believe what he heard: a mother, whose daughter was on the losing team, cursed her daughter for a full five minutes. Not just critiqued her daughter’s play, but actually cursed at her daughter.

“These girls are only twelve,” the dad exclaimed. “They’re still learning the game. What’s the big deal about losing at this age?” (His daughter’s team had lost to this particular team earlier in the season, so he had been in the same situation.)

Hubs and I agreed. None of the high schools offer athletic scholarships. College and the WNBA is a ways off. Many of the girls are experiencing growth spurts and are still learning what do with their long arms, long legs, big feet, and breasts that are getting in the way of, well, everything. Playing basketball is supposed to be giving them confidence in themselves, one more skill set to master, an introduction to a sport that, if they don’t play competitively, they may want to play on a “pick-up” level.

Of course, Hubs and I know that our daughter will never play basketball competitively. She doesn’t have the passion for it. Still, it was gratifying to hear another parent echo our feelings, especially one whose daughter is good.