Sunday, March 3, 2013

Learning to Play Fair Even If They Don't

We've had a lot of Sunday Night Dinner " Table Talks" lately about playing fair and understanding that not everyone plays by the rules.  All of these conversations have come after a Sunday afternoon YMCA girls basketball game.  Second Graders.  Not exactly the kind of sports lessons I was thinking I needed to teach my 8 year old.

First a little background: I'm not a Basketball aficionado.  In fact except for the fact that I know you dribble the ball down the court and shoot for the basket, I really know nothing. Soccer and Golf are more my areas of expertise.  However having spent the majority of the past two years watching Miss A play basketball on Sunday afternoons from October to March, I'm getting to understand a little.  Just don't ask me what a screen is.

I had no problem however figuring out that the refs were not calling any fouls and that the majority of the teams we were playing didn't seem to know the rules of play anymore than I did.  There were elbows flying, double dribbling all over the place, and the defense was more like arm wrestling.  You know when you yell "arms up" to remind the players to defend their "girl," well the yelling at these games were more like "get your arms straight up, stop trying to hug our player!"  Seriously, I thought some of the games were going to result in all the parents from our team storming onto the court to protest.

The sad part of all of this is that our girls noticed how the other teams played and wondered why they were cheating.  Why did their coach teach them to defend their "girl" (in this league you wear arm bands and have a designated player on the other side wearing your same color) and why they kept trying to steal the ball and defend before we'd even crossed center court.  When your teenage son; who normally defends all refs and umpires (the joy of being in their shoes come baseball season) comments that the refs should spend less time dunking the ball during the breaks and more time finding their whistle during the game, you know it's a problem.

I've got to give huge kudos to our coach.  He never stooped to their level. He never encouraged our girls to cheat. Even when we were getting our clocks cleaned by the opponents who didn't substitute great players, didn't defend with arms straight up and dribbled like me rather than my daughter.  He kept teaching the fundamentals and practice was all about learning to make baskets, practicing the "screen" and playing games like knock out and rebound drills.  When they played a make up game, he always told them that the next basket would "win the State Championship" which got the girls screaming for joy!

Miss A loves basketball. She's got the height advantage that might make her a good player one day and we want her to learn that basketball is a lot like life.  If you play fair and go by the rules, you are the winner in the end.  Cheating never pays.

While this might not have been the season we hoped for our team, our daughter walks away with some life lessons from the court that will carry her far off the court too.  Plus they had snacks each week and a season ending party at the Pizza place complete with trophies.  Can it get better than that?  Miss A would say no!

I hear that golf is a great game for tall girls too.  According to my research, it is a great college scholarship opportunity. I'm just saying.  No refs, no cheating and best of all no elbows flying!

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