1884. Helicopter Landing Zone

I mentioned the other day that I was having a particularly tough time with this basketball season. That has not changed. The older team is dealing with a really rough transition to 10-12 ball. This happened in flag football as well. Basically, my 10 year olds are experiencing 10-12 for the first time, despite the fact that many of them are going to be 11 before year’s end. They are still raw and emotional. Two games in a row have been decided in the last seconds and both were losses. All games have been losses, much like flag football turned out (we did get the 1 win). 6-7 continues to be a different story, with all but one of our five games resulting in a win–usually a big one. Tonight was no different, a 27-4 thumping of a very good team with a coach I really like and respect. This isn’t a blog about winning though. This is about the moment a mom walked on the court and put everything in a dark and difficult perspective.

The mom in question is the same mom that wants her kid to feel like a superstar. On the surface there is nothing wrong with a kid feeling confident. Still, she bragged about him always being the best on a very bad team and was disappointed in the skill level of our team because her son didn’t stand out. I have a very different take on the boy. To me he’s a kid who is good enough to play with good kids and contribute. Being around better players will make him stronger as a player and give him a bit of a backbone and sense of reality. Regardless of the age group it is ridiculous to me to try to shelter a┬ákid from the reality of their skill level and opposing competition. We aren’t going to put our worst kid on their superstar and say, “guard that kid” but at the same time we aren’t going to sit him until an appropriately sucky set of players takes the court so he can show out.

That is precisely what this mom demanded that I do.

She walked on the court and into the huddle as we are sending players out and said in front of his peers that he needed to be with the weaker players because he was getting discouraged. He looked at me half like she was crazy and half mortified. Not wanting her to make more of a scene, I benched him and let him come out with the subs. He did well–just as well as he had with the starters (of which he is one BTW) and when all of the bench kids came out of the game he asked to stay on and play with the “good kids”.

Clearly the mom was hovering around her kid trying to control his experience and make it the best possible experience for him. I respect that, but I don’t respect the way she did it or her inability to recognize that the kid wants and needs to grow. I can only suspect she’ll continue to do this and can only imagine that once he hits a level where the competition is much more intense (8-9 is that way) he will shrivel up and quit because of both how he was treated by her and equally not being exposed to a significant level of talent.

Sure, some players do get down when our top kids are on the court and everybody is asking for the ball, but that is all part of the learning process. You aren’t always going to be the MVP, but you are always going to have a chance to contribute to the best of your ability. That contribution is worth something, whether you are the star or the 12th man on the bench. No matter where you rank you are still part of the team and hiding from your natural role to try and pretend to be something you are not doesn’t boost confidence, it creates false bravado.


Some Thoughts:

  1. 1884 was the year the United States adopted standard time. We didn’t do so because of any social convenience. It wasn’t about a unity pledge across the USA. No, our country adopted standard time in order to set proper schedules for the railroad. So you see, we’ve always been about business first and will remain that way ad infinitum.