My Convertible Life

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Good Sport

For a woman who never played organized sports growing up – unless you count driveway kickball, which wasn’t really all that organized but was highly competitive – I’ve made a real commitment to team athletics for my kids. Like many suburban moms, I drive them to and from practices, bring snacks, cheer for everyone and spend large chunks of my life sitting on bleachers in conditions that are often too cold or too hot to be pleasant.

While it’s nice to imagine that they might turn out to be college-scholarship athletes, I’m not overly concerned that they excel at the sports they play. As hokey as it sounds, I really just want them to learn how to be a good teammate, engage in healthy exercise, develop a few leadership skills, and have a lot of fun.

It’s more important to me that they learn how to be good sports than to be good at sports.

In his most recent basketball season, Junius and his team had a perfect record – they managed to go eight straight games without winning a single one. Coming off an undefeated season with his hockey team, I worried that he might lose interest in basketball – or at least in his teammates – given their apparent lack of success.

During the final game last month, Junius scored a personal best 14 points. But the game highlight occurred when the ball wasn’t even in play.

As he followed his team back into the gym after halftime, Junius ran in front of his team’s bench, launched into a halfway decent cartwheel and burst out laughing as he bounced down next to the other boys.

When I asked him after the game why he did the cartwheel – an unusually showy move for him – he replied simply, “I wanted to rally my team, mom!”

That cartwheel rally didn’t affect the game’s outcome, but it made an otherwise losing season worth every butt-numbing minute in the stands.


  1. Awww, that's so great! I spent many a day/evening in the summers watching my brothers play baseball, football practice, all that good stuff. It's way more fun when the kids are having fun. Not fun when the parents act like jerks therefore teaching their children to act like jerks. My girl is not cut out for team sports, it's not in her personality/wiring. Of course my in laws and their obsessive "team sport" mentality scratch their heads over why we don't have her in every sport known to man. It's just not in the cards at this time. So it's swim lessons and (probably) Karate at the moment.

    1. Yeah, so far Pippi's sports are mainly gymnastics and cheerleading. Makes me feel like a stereotype -- except that I was the same way. I think you're smart to let her follow what suits her.

  2. Man, I wish we lived closer so that we could go out to dinner! We are just about to jump in to the world of kids' sports: skating lessons for hockey start next month and we'll be doing soccer camp in the summer. K-Pants LOVES sports, but what I really want him to get out of the experience is what you're talking about: stuff like sportsmanship, discipline, and teamwork. Any tips on bench-sitting while maintaining one's already-medicore posture would be appreciated. :)

    1. Oh, me too! Still holding out hope that you're going to find your way back to NC :)

      I think part of the trick is to find like-minded friends so you can form teams together or at least find leagues that are more focused on the learning experience instead of the competition. Or seek out the parents on the bench who seem to approach the game like you do -- they're usually easy to spot between the parents who are clearly there to win.

      Also, ear plugs help, or a flask (just kidding -- sort of).


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