Saturday was tournament day for Sai’s basketball club. He’s still in house league, so while he’s a great player (I’m not being biased here), not all the players are to his level. His team won only one game out of the regular season, and literally every Saturday, I’d wait for the call or text of the how the game went. You see, I don’t go to very many of his games, because I AM ‘that mom’. I’m ‘that mom’ that gets frustrated that that kid couldn’t catch a simple pass. I am that mom that wonders ‘did that kid seriously think he can get the ball in from 2 feet behind the free throw line? I AM that mom. So to save Sai and Robert the embarrassment of my random comments, I’m only allowed to go to his tournaments. Yes, that’s the rule, we won’t tell you who laid that law down.
Anyway, I’ve gotten off track…every Saturday; I needed to find some encouraging words for Sai. “Did you have fun?”, “Did you learn something new?”, “Dad said you were soooo amazing today!” were all phrases that I’d say in an effort to ease the pain of losing. Rob (who was one of the coaches) would say “You won’t believe the move he did today! I wish I could have recorded it.” But regardless of how hard Sai worked, regardless of how great he performed, the wins evaded his team like the plague. This was hard for Noey, Sai, Rob (who’s part of a basketball team that is undefeated in regular season – they’ve only lost one playoff game – in 3 years!) and of course me.
Last season, the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) all came out to Sai’s tournament day. His team won that season. But this season, I got specific instructions “Mom, please don’t tell anyone about the tournament, we’ve only won 1 game this season so I don’t think we’ll get very far.” And they didn’t. While that was heartbreaking, it was reassuring to see the coaches from the other team go up to him exclaiming what an amazing player he was and what a great game he played. But one child is not enough to carry the team.
Can someone please remind me why team sports are good for kids again? I’m far from the athlete that Rob is. Actually I shouldn’t even have the word ‘athlete’ in the same sentence as ‘Tricia’…that’s how far off I am. I’ve never played any organized sport (or unorganized for that matter), I hated gym (even pulled off a double F AND I attended every class…don’t ask, I’m still bitter as that one grade affected my overall average) and up to this day still shy away from any sporting activities.
Despite all of that, I’d like to consider myself a really good team player. I mean my colleagues love me, my friends love me, my family loves me…and if I didn’t ‘play well’ they wouldn’t right? I’m very torn right now. I’m a mom who’s furiously protective of her kids, their feelings and well-being. I just cannot bear to see them hurt. So what to do? How does team sports fit into their lives at this age or is it better left for the teen years? I mean, thinking back to it, I’m not sure that I ever heard of competitive team sports teams at such a young age when I was growing up. As far as I can recall, team sports happened in high school and up. But times are changing…all of their friends are involved in sports. Some are even zoning in on one sport from as young as Grade 3 and not learning any other sport. Sai even has a friend who goes to the gym often to help with his strength for hockey.
To be honest, I’m not ready for this. I just want my kids to go outdoors, play with marbles, ride their bikes, toss a ball around, play hide and seek…I want them to have a childhood free of competition. And when their little emotions become big enough to handle the pain of failure and the joy of winning, then and only then do I want them in play team sports. How can I make this happen? Better yet, is this the right approach?