Sunday, March 7, 2010

When Basketball Really Means Something

It was too nice of a day to spend it indoors, I thought to myself as I was awoken by the first sunshine in weeks and three exuberant children.  But I promised everyone that today would be all about basketball.  It's an important endeavor in this household, you know.  And for good reason.  With such tall children, maybe my dream of sending my kids to school tuition free could actually come true.  (It's difficult to type with my fingers crossed like they are right now.)  So I slowly got ready and made the children breakfast.  Yeah, it was too nice today to spend it indoors. 

We pile into the car.  Mom and Dad get their coffees, and a large bucket of Munchkins are purchased.  It seemed like the ride took forever.  "Mom, can you tell Dad not to park so far away?"  I hear from the back of the car as I pull into the parking lot.  I'm not sure which one said it, whining children all sound alike to me, but at least we don't have to pay for parking today.  As we walk in, we try to sneak past the concession stands to get to our seats.  But my five year old is too smart for that ploy. 

"Can I get a snack?"  My five year old asks me pointing to the popcorn and Doritos.

"Only if you pay for it yourself with your own money."  That should keep him quiet, because he doesn't have any money!

"Can I buy two snacks?"  He asks me as he pulls out a couple of dollars from his pants.  How the hell did he get money?  Or better still - where did he get that money?  I tell him he can get a snack later and luckily that made him happy.  Maybe he can buy me a Diet Coke with his stash too, since coincidentally my wallet seems 2 dollars lighter.

After some more high level negotiations involving snacks, drinks and a driveway basketball game later in the afternoon, we finally get inside.  This must be an important game to a lot of people.  The buzz and murmur in the air is palpable, as we walk in.  Watching the players warming up, it seems like they know it's an important game too. 

"Are we rooting for the team in blue or the team in red?"  My five year old asks me as he tries to settle in to his seat.  "I'm rooting for the team in blue."  I nod and tell him that that's a good choice.

"Settling in" was actually more like a joke.  I'm struggling with a daughter who wants to lie down with her balnket and a 5 year old asking me if he can play his DS.  "Just watch the game guys."  I stifle a little whine coming out of my own mouth.  While this goes on, I miss the tip off jump ball.  I also miss the teams trading the first two baskets of the game to pick up some spilled Gatorade. 

"I'm sorry Daddy" my daughter sweetly says.  How can you get mad at her when she does that?

"That's okay sweetheart.  Just don't do it again, ok?"  She nods at me knowing that that is exactly what she going to do with her chocolate milk later in the car on the way home.

As the game progresses, it didn't take long for team red to increase the score to 8-2.  Our guys are playing hard but they just can't knock down any shots.  Their defensive intensity is at a high level, but they are looking a little too much for their own shots rather than looking for the open teammate.  That's a coaching issue, I think.

16-6.  Ugh.  The game is already getting a little out of control.  It's too bad.  The players have worked really hard this year; it would be a shame if they aren't rewarded with a win.

The defense is superb.  Numerous defensive stops and steals are keeping the score low at the beginning, but their shots just aren't going in.  18-6.  The intensity increases as the time starts winding down.  Screaming signals and plays starts with even more earnest. 

Unfortunately the whistle blows with team red beating team blue 18-6.  The players walk off the court, shake hands and huddle up to talk about the season.  Spectators clap for the players as they walk off the court, applauding the outstanding hustle and play.  Maybe you already guessed that this wasn't the NBA, college or even high school basketball.  It was my seven year old's first playoff game. 

After we spend some time consoling him (and telling him how well he played) on the drive back home, he stops for a moment and finally asks, "Can I practice basketball when we get home?  I really love playing basketball and I want to keep practice shooting." 

"How about we play a game?"  I respond.  "You and Mom against your brother and me.  First to 100 wins."

"Yeah, Dad!  And we get the ball first!"      

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