Spoilsports

I am fairly sure one level of hell is reserved for aged jocks who didn’t go pro. If you have kids, you know who I’m talking about. The ones who coach pee-wee baseball or basketball with the fervor of a World Cup professional. The ones who are determined that their kid going pro and annihilating other children on a regular basis means that their manhood is somehow restored. That they birthed a champion, even if they didn’t prove themselves to be one.A coach getting ready to instruct his team.

Give me a break.

They generally gear up for a game. Here in the United States, they tend to be meatheads. Backwards baseball cap on, along with oversized basketball or running shoes, muscle shirt and track pants. They come equipped with loud voices for the copious screaming they feel is necessary to “motivate” their team to victory.

They must have missed the charm school class that covered game etiquette. Hence, they put their man parts on the table each and every game. And what I mean by that is: they feel emasculated if “they” lose. And they think of it as a personal loss. The kids don’t seem to figure into the whole equation, except as the sponges who absorb all the screaming, yelling and testosterone.

My son’s basketball team recently played  a championship game against a team coached by not one—but two—of these meatheads. After losing every single game the entire season, my son’s team went to the tournament and placed second overall—beating two teams to get to the final match.

These boys were thrilled. And us parents were in disbelief. Where did this final push to victory come from? It all gelled for them in this tournament weekend and we couldn’t have been happier. Not because they were besting other boys. Because the joy on their faces was sweeter than any victory could have been. Who doesn’t love to see an underdog win?

Did I mention my son goes to a gifted school? That most of these kids are better in a math or science competition than at shooting baskets? That made them performing so well last weekend all the more precious. Basketball, for most of these kids, is not a forte; it’s a stretch. But they’re out there putting themselves on the line. I love that.

So when we got to the final game and I saw Meatheads No. 1 and No. 2 coaching the opposing team, I had to sit on my hands and bite my tongue. I gave them the benefit of the doubt before the game. But as I heard No. 1 say, “Take him” to his son as he sent him to guard one of our players who was half his size, I had a pretty good idea who we were dealing with.

Baseball coach giving instructions to players in dugout.I was reminded of the lacrosse parent who dropped his son off at practice—at PRACTICE—and said, “I want to see someone on the ground because of you.” Really? You want him to drop a teammate? I wonder what this father says to his son before an actual game. Does he encourage him to eat raw meat for breakfast and pound his chest? And is he thinking that this makes the rest of civilized society genuflect while wondering how he is raising such a fine young man? Hardly.

I won’t go into detail about last weekend’s final game but let’s just say as one of my son’s teammates sat on the sidelines, unable to stop coughing and holding his ribs because of the elbow he took on the final play, these coaches were oblivious. They were cutting down the net to signal their victory. And you can guess who was keeping that net as a trophy. Hint: He’s over six feet tall.

Because a fourth-grade basketball championship is all about that, right? We won, kids. No need to worry about any injuries caused. Or how cleanly you played. Did you see me arguing with the ref? Guess I showed him a thing or two, didn’t I? That’s how a REAL man handles it.

I have a feeling when these coaches and their brethren hear the song, “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” they’re among the few who don’t realize it’s a parody. That guys like them are being mocked.

I was so proud of our kids. They played well. They were frustrated but kept it in check during the game. They played cleanly and at their best, although they were tired after the previous two games. Their coach taught them well. It was all about them and their abilities, not taking down the other team. I was glad they had that role model.

And my son? Well, he made his first basket of the season. The look on his face made up for any meatheads we had to face.

The victory was all his, despite the defeat. I was nowhere in that scenario.

Which is as it should be.

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for a great article. It’s so very true on so many fronts….(insert your sport of choice here) It’s one of the many reasons I stay away from the hockey rinks as much as I can here in Canada. Even when my son was younger and played hockey I would often find a place to sit away from the the yelling and screaming parents so I could enjoy the peaceful pleasure of watching my son play a sport he loved so dearly without the constant interference of loud mouthed know-it-all parents.

    Youth sports can be such a great vehicle to having a ton of fun, meeting new friends and learning about teamwork etc when it’s done with the best interest of the kids in mind, not the adults. Youth sports is called your sports for a reason: It’s for the kids. Keep up the great work!

    1. candidkay says:

      We’ll said! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Kelly says:

    Love this ! So true as i witness so many times with my kids sporting events

    Well done as usual

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. walt walker says:

    I agree with every word. Well done. Teamwork should be about building, not destroying.

  4. I see one proud Mum there in that first basket..

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, it shows then? 🙂

  5. Anne says:

    Yes, sportsmanship should be a priority at this age especially as Lord knows it gets harder as they get older to teach it. Good hard but clean play is what should be taught & there is no shame in losing if you gave it best effort.

  6. Kevin says:

    Hmm, I always tell my players, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts (I try to ruin as many young lives as possible) that “If you ain’t crying, you ain’t trying.” (I find the lack of proper grammar another motivational tool). But seriously, it is just a game and you can’t live your past glories (or lack of them) through your kids. No one wants to lose. We all want to be winners but most of us won’t be the winner. I’ve lost most of my games and competitions and I turned out fine. That’s my worthless advice of the day…now, I’m back off to find a power outlet at the park where I live in my van down by the river.

  7. lmarieallen says:

    I just signed my six year old daughter up for softball, and on the website they have a special tab to click for “proper game etiquette”. How sad that grown-ups need such a thing. Hooray for your son’s basket!

    1. candidkay says:

      You mean “proper game etiquette” is for the grownups, not the kids? Oh my:). I guess they assume the children know how to behave better than we do . . .

  8. markbialczak says:

    I’m all for teaching children to play hard and play well, Kay, but obviously not at the expense of another team’s players’ health or dignity.

    The best lesson to teach fourth graders is that it takes the best from both teams on the floor to achieve a truly memorable game, for everybody involved.

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