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.
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.
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.