June 29, 2012 by David Gillaspie
This sports moment brought to you by the memoir, Memoir Of The 3Gs, available soon.
Outside the degenerate gambler, sports eases our burden, the burden for both genders, or for the busiest of the busy: the burdens of the burden that burdens them most. Even they are off the hook because sports tells us all the same thing:
“You’re not good enough. If you were you’d be playing, not watching.”
So be a good sport and pay attention…to the sports you watch.
Only in sports can men and women both claim to Have It All, and take us along for the ride.
From chest bumping men to shirt whipping women; from male ice dancers to female boxers, it’s all right there.
If they play it and broadcast it, we will watch. Men’s and women’s soccer. Softball and baseball. Basketball. Everyone gets a chance to play on TV.
Of course the details are a little messy in college sports with the extra attention for the anniversary of Title IX. Forty years ought to be long enough to build a level platform, but it’s a process.
Professional sports say you’re not good enough on the field, or in the neighborhood, though it’s hard to tell when our heroes live in gated communities. The gate is the message; you better know the code.
The only safe place for the sports fan is rec league coaching, which also has a code: Adults with kids in the league is that password.
Like any normal person, you grew up throwing, hitting, and running. Combine them all and you played sports, whether it had a name or not.
Remember which activity you enjoyed most of the three and pick a sport to coach. Will your kid enjoy a sports experience playing on your team? Whatever.
If you do have a balky kid, ask them to help you choose your players. They love that. My kids picked some great teams.
Once you have the parent meeting and give the talk about sports being all about participation, not building a killer instinct, schedule your practices and hit it.
At the first all-team meeting repeat the talk about sports being about participation and having fun, not about building a killer instinct. After that, tell the team there’s a prize after each practice for the player voted for showing the most killer instinct. Then laugh, say you were kidding, and drop a box of Mike and Ik’s out of your pocket.
This is your team. This is your soccer team. Remind them there’s a Classic Soccer league where some of their friends play. Tell them your team has better athletes than them, maybe not better soccer players but better athletes. Look away quickly and rub your chin and pretend to talk to yourself.
“It’s always the classic contest between the highly skilled and the superior athlete. The best combination is the highly skilled superior athlete, a team of them, but that never happens. This could be that team, but that’s too much to ask.”
Turn back to the team with a sweet smile and say, “We’re here to have fun, right? To play soccer and have fun, that’s the deal. We think winning is fun, right? It’s always more fun to win. The juice box is colder, the medal is shinier. And we can be that team.
“You guys are good enough to run through an undefeated season. I think you know that, you’ve played long enough to know the other teams. We can play pitter-patter and have a great year. Or, and this is team circle talk, or we can go after the Classic team. We’ll train harder than them. Go to their games and cheer. And talk about the classic battle between skill and ability.
“You have the ability to do whatever you want this season. You’re bad asses all on the same team. Might be your last soccer team. Football players next year raise your hands? Okay, hockey players? Good. How many are going to use this season next year to train for another sport? How many are going to run and lift and do it on a schedule to wrestle like real men? Listen, play along. All raise your hand. Get ‘em up. All up? Everyone is gonna work out like mad for wrestling season. 100%. It’ll be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
“See, you raised your hands for wrestling. You might follow through. I hope so. In case you decide to see how hard you can push yourselves, this could be your season, a springboard for every season to follow. Some of you could do that. From the looks of you, you need a good season. Like you’ve had enough patty cake playing and want to get into a real game, the kind you play by getting between your opponent and the ball, no matter what.
“Who can do that? Who can screen off a ball? You all can. If you can stand, you can screen a ball. You might need to run a little, but keeping someone off the ball is name of the game. Two of you, come out here. There’s the ball, keep him from touching it by blocking out. Block him out. Back him up. Just like that. Good, take a seat.
“Now listen, sixth grade starts next week. Take your soccer ball home tonight and kick it off a wall. Turn your foot out like this. Be on time in school, on time to class, and on time to practice. Let’s break up into fours and kick clockwise. Which way? Bulldogs on three, two, one…”
It was my kid.
“We don’t always have to be Bulldogs.”
“This player made a good point,” I told the team. “You are not Bulldogs, but naming the team Bulldogs can’t hurt. Who wants to be Bulldogs?”
Hands all raised.
“Woof, there it is.”