Our first two efforts at encouraging Milo into organised sport were not successful. First was soccer; he picked up the ball mid practice because I failed to brief him on that whole key tenet of soccer. Coach wrote him off as a trouble maker and the whole thing spiraled from there. I must accept my portion of blame for that. Second was karate; Milo waited until he had the sweet uniform then quit. Well played Milo.
Attempt number three is basketball and it seems to be going well so far. In Australia junior basketball is affectionately known as ‘Aussie Hoops’. This is entirely non-competitive, learning the rules and skills and hugging each other, and buying merch. Great.
Even within this benign environment I have already noted several categories of both participant and parent. This is what I have learned so far:
There are three types of participant, as follows:
The Flossing Kid is either flossing, or thinking about flossing, or chocolate milk, or comparing their height to the other kids, back-to-back. Basketball has occurred to the Flossing Kid zero times and he or she is the most likely person in the gym to cop a basketball to the ear. Flossing Kid does not seem to mind when this happens.
Cheaty Kid has incorrectly deduced that the objective of each drill is speed. Cheaty Kid will carry the ball and run if he or she thinks the coach is not looking, Cheaty Kid cares not for the violation that is double dribble, and Cheaty Kid will slide gently ahead of other patient participants in the lay-up queue if they are distracted by Flossing Kid requesting a height comparison. Cheaty Kid would actually be pretty good at basketball if they focussed on the fundamentals.
Each week Bewildered Kid seems genuinely surprised to be at Aussie Hoops. This is what Bewildered Kid’s eyes say “Oh, I have the ball. That’s interesting. Oh, do you want the ball? What’s that? Oh, I should… I should keep the ball? OK, I’ll keep the ball. OK we’re sitting down now. OK now I’m sitting down.”
As far as I can tell there are also three categories of parents.
Volunteer Coach played division 2 basketball at school. They have a Fleer Ultra Michael Jordan Rookie Card in their top drawer. They think it’s worth $20,000, “at least”. It’s not. Volunteer Coach mingles around with the kids at shoot around, occasionally dunking on the 8 foot hoop and returning rebounded shots, snapping their wrists properly and thudding the ball into their appreciative 7 year old’s chest. During practice Volunteer Coach yells out helpful guidance like “Keifer! Dribble hand off! Dribble hand off like I showed you”, when the drill is pass the ball gently to the small child you just met and ideally don’t make them cry. Volunteer Coach would be drinking Pepsi through a straw if Volunteer Coach was not wearing a surgical mask.
Instagram Parent is only waiting around because the stadium is in the middle of nowhere, the session is only 45 minutes and there is not enough time to go anywhere interesting and besides it is really hard to reverse the SUV out again with all those little kids everywhere. Instagram Parent scrolls their phone and is the second most likely person in the gym to cop a ball in the ear. Instagram Parent certainly minds if this happens.
Aggressively Supportive yells out non-sensical votes of encouragement like “Oh beautiful jump hop Prudence” and “wonderful posture Mikey. Daddy loves you!” Aggressively Supportive will build rapport with the teenage coaches after the session and buy ice cream on the way home.
Interestingly the participants and parents don’t seem to match up exactly as you might imagine. For example, Cheaty Kid doesn’t seem to go home with Volunteer Coach in a Ford Ranger as often as you might think. So far my favourite combination is Bewildered Kid with Aggressively Supportive.
More to come.