Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shine It On

The middle boy had a soccer tournament this weekend. By nature I'm more of baseball fan than a soccer hooligan, but I do like watching him play. The team's come a long way over the past year and this weekend beat two teams that thrashed them last summer. The weather was nice, for one of the games anyway, the guys played better than I've ever seen them, and they ended up in second place.

When it was announced that runners-up also got a medal, my kid shrieked, "Yay, we get a shiny thing!" in the Sesame Street voice he normally saves to irritate his older brother. I shook my head at his complete lack of self-respect while the other parents, who've gotten used to him, laughed and tousled his hair. He scored four of the team's six goals during the tournament and I guess that earns you the right to be a knucklehead.

Meanwhile, the baseball team's practice consisted of a Wiffle ball game. Coach P. and I had a theory that this would allow the guys to focus on fundamentals, like covering bases, without worrying about getting beaned by a pitch or having to chase around the outfield for a well hit ball.

One of the moms came up to me about halfway through the practice and said, "You two certainly have the most interesting coaching style I've ever seen."

"Interesting?" I asked. "As in, 'What in interesting piece of art' interesting? As in, 'if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all' interesting?"

"No, nothing like that," she replied. "Just interesting."

It's hard to know how to respond to that, but I live a life filled with enigmas.

In most ways a pretty typical weekend. There were two things, though, that made this weekend a little different.

First, for the only time since my kid started playing, someone got a red card. The coach of the team that won the tournament, for that matter. They're up 5-2, less than a minute left to play, and the referee called a penalty on his team. The coach started complaining, the ref reached in his pocket, and out came the card. That means the coach was not only ejected for the rest of today's game, he'll be out for the next game too.

Ten minutes later the medals are getting handed out. As runners-up we go first and our coach recognizes our individual players. Then it's the winning coach's turn.

He looks at his kids and ours, all the parents, and says, "I'd like to congratulate the second-place team. They played well.

"I also want to say that a few minutes ago you saw a coach do something stupid. I forgot for a minute that soccer's about a lot more than goals and winning. I've apologized to the referee and I apologize to all of you."

On the way to the car I shook his hand and thanked him.

Second, we spent Saturday morning at an adaptive baseball game. A friend's son has some disabilities and this was his first time playing. I went with my boys and a neighbor and his boy, and we watched and cheered as the kids rounded the bases in their wheelchairs, or guided by the Little Leaguers who'd volunteered to help. It's a beautiful field they have, built with tax dollars and private contributions and worth every penny. The boys yelled when their friend scored and gave him high fives when the game was over and on the way home asked, "That was fun. Can we go the next time he plays?"

So my kids learned something from sports this weekend. They learned that people do stupid things and suffer consequences. They learned that real men and women admit their mistakes and take responsibility. And they learned that having fun is more important than winning something shiny.


Anonymous said...

Having fun is more important than something shiny?

No way!!

That was awesome about the other coach.

Anonymous said...

Interesting... yikes!

I'm glad the other coach spoke up. We could use more of that in coaches and kids... and presidents...

Anonymous said...

Wow, it is quiet over here, Snag. I thought it was merely because you ate everything that could make noise!

Snag said...

AG, I do love a good humiliation. Too bad he ruined it by being a halfway decent guy.

Jennifer, if you think it's quiet it's only because you haven't heard my stomach rumbling.