Hell is a basketball


Hell on earth
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Hell is a basketball that’s bigger than your whole torso, flying towards you at a bazillion miles an hour. The kids who are all a head taller than you or more jostle you in line. As you approach the 7 foot tall, jocular, hearty sports coach (I imagine you can look up and see his nose hairs in horrible detail), you look up at the basketball hoop floating practically in orbit. Closer… closer…. Quick, nip to the end of the line again so as to avoid the moment when you muster up all your strength and the basketball maybe goes about two feet above your head in some random direction. The coach can barely conceal his dismissal of you as a human being, and the big kids stare blankly.

My son… I’ve so been there.

The bouncing drill wasn’t quite as awful as shooting baskets. When I got to the fiery pits of hell (this playground) the kids were paired up and bouncing the basketballs back and forth. Moomin’s partner, a burly kid with a crew cut, was trying to pull his punches. Moomin would stand there with his arms folded, projecting hatred, indifference, and “Humph”. The ball would bounce his way. About 5 seconds after the ball either hit him or went bouncing by, he’d fake-act like he was trying to catch it, and then just go pick it up. Then he’d try to hold the basketball while crossing his arms again, which was impossible, so he settled for looking extremely displeased and then let the ball flobber gently from his hands. To his credit, he kept going through the motions and didn’t actually burst into tears. And to young Bluto’s credit, he didn’t stalk off to find another partner or say anything rude. To the teachers’ discredit (four of them, for maybe 12 kids) none of them acted like they noticed.

Well, Rook warned me the “basketball drill” was a disaster. I took Moomin out of it early. It was horribly painful to watch the “sports” and to know so well what he was going through. And how angry and bored he was.

“Mom, guess what.”

“What?”

“I H-A-T-E sports. Especially basketball. “

“Guess what Moomin?”

“What?”

“I also hate basketball. Hated it. H-A-T-E. Sorry you had to play it.”

“That’s okay Mom. Don’t feel bad about it.”

Erg! I’m going to hell, where they’ll make me shoot baskets for infinity…

I promised him that after next week he can decide whether to stay in the program or not. Next week is soccer, which he might like better. I explained about Pele who was extremely short and didn’t think he could be good at any sports, and who was the best soccer player ever (all information based on dim memory of a book read in maybe 1976).

But I don’t have the heart to make him stay in this super boring program where they don’t play actual games. I can’t even tell what the point of it is – it’s mostly about waiting in line and then all failing repeatedly at an impossible task – NOT about “healthy exercise”. Why not have them all play tag or capture the flag or some variant of a harmless sport like t-ball? If they were “sporty” kids they’d most of them already be signed up for an actual team.

Oh, and did I mention the kicker of this sad story? At the same time as the “healthy exercise” component. 90% of the little girls are in the gym having ballet class from one of the 2nd grade teachers — all in leotards and tutus. Oh, that’s healthy… I blame ballet for a hell of a lot of psychological damage to girls in this country. Thus does our $300,000 Active Kids Grant go down the toilet. Why not just buy several “Dance Dance Revolution” machines and force all the kids to be in soccer games twice a week? But no… that’s not how these crappy one-time grants work.

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4 Responses to Hell is a basketball

  1. qp says:

    Glah, games with balls! At least the ones where everyone runs around so it looks like you're helping aren't so bad. Maybe soccer will be better.They should just teach them all to fence. Kids & swords! It's perfect!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tennis! I recommend tennis!! And you can learn with him! Mom taught me to play so that she had someone to go hit with. You get to take out aggression on the little fuzzy yellow ball and it's not a team sport, so it doesn't matter how good everyone else is doing!

  3. The Teacher says:

    I recommend disc sports…Ultimate frisbee/disc golf. At least at adult level…the people involved are SUPER supportive and nice. The problem is that the learning curve for throwing a catching a disc can be a little steeper than with a ball.

  4. adriana says:

    I always hated games that involved projectiles. Do you think he would enjoy running? I wish someone had encouraged me to run as a child. Once you pass the "oh god this sucks" phase (as your body adjusts to the exercise) it can be a wonderful, solitary sport.