Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Right Then

So, tonight was a football game and the best I can say about it was that it did not rain until the last three minutes of the fifth quarter. The "A" team -- which is made up of the coach's kids and a few others -- played the whole game. The "B" team did not. At all. The game was "too close" to chance it because we were only 10 points ahead. Two minutes before the end we scored another touch down and we thought, okay, let our kids play these two minutes, please. But they didn't.

Instead they muttered something about a fifth quarter and let the A team finish the game.

THEN they invented a fifth quarter and sent the "B" team out to play against all the kids on the other team with spotlessly clean jerseys.

Now, I sound bitter but I'm actually very satisfied by the solution. My kid is perfectly happy to play only one quarter. He'd rather play it in the real game, but a "fifth quarter" works, too. The simple fact is that you can't learn the game during practice -- you can learn some skills, but the game has to be played on a field, against other kids who want to beat you. Period.

What I'm not thrilled about is the pathetically uncoordinated, and frankly, thoughtless way in which is was handled. I was told later that the idea of the fifth quarter was concocted on the way to the game and agreed to by the other coach prior to the start of the game. But none of the parents were told until 44 seconds before the end of the game. By this time, there was a group of about six to eight parents and their spouses (and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins) who were too mad to be "okay" with the solution. There were also some kids hurt and in tears. They also didn't know they wouldn't be playing until the fourth quarter.

If a coach had come jogging down the side lines in a get 'em excited kind of way and said, "Hey, great news! The other team has agreed to a fifth quarter! So if your kid doesn't get in during the game, don't worry! They'll get to play in the fifth quarter!" It would have been a disappointment, but that's it. The kind of thing you grumble out -- like someone bringing 11 items into the express lane when you're in an all-fire hurry -- and then get over. Your kid jogs off the field after the fifth quarter and you meet him with grins and attaboys.

Most of these kids got, I dunno, really unhappy parents.

Me? I'm disappointed in the way it was handled and I even spent some time talking to the wife of one of the coaches trying to help her see it from the other viewpoint -- she was feeling pretty defensive -- but after the last few years -- well it's just not something I can get hugely caught up in. It just kind of made me draw back a bit and keep my expectations of the season low. We'll keep the twins home and I'll find a quiet place to watch from the side and keep to myself. Max and I talked about it on the way home and we decided we'd do all we could to make Football work, but maybe we'd bump it down a notch in terms of priorities. We'd put it ahead of swimming and even, :gasp: group piano lessons. But I think now we've bumped it to third place. If swimming turns out to be more fun than it was in the spring (our expectations there are guarded, too -- it could be fun at times, not fun at other times) then we'll do three nights of swimming and two of football. We'll do the Thursday evening piano class and miss the first 15 minutes of football practice on those nights (we were going to have to do that anyway -- the other two classes are right smack in the middle of practice and that's going too far).

I suspect that for the first few months anyway, very little will change. We'll do football three nights and swimming two nights and try to focus on the good for football. But like I said, we definitely took it down a notch in our expectations tonight. It wasn't that much fun tonight having higher expectations. So we'll adjust the expectations and carry on meeting our obligations to the sport as much as we're permitted to.


Hillary said...

Hee! Hee! Alaska, it looks like you have quite a few new visitors to your blog tonight!

I wish I had something construictive to add, but I would've been one of the mad moms, I think. C'mon, the kids are, what?? 10? Can we please push the "win the game at all costs" competition until they're older?

I am all for competition, but I really like leagues where every child has to play the same amount of time, no matter how talented they might be. When the kids are so young, they just need time and experience to improve.

It sounds like you handled it beautifully, though! And it's neat to hear about Max being so active. Both swimming and football is a lot of exercise!


The Queen said...

Whoo! Had to go change me some settings! ::dusting off hands:: all better :)

The kids are 7, 8, and 9. Yeah, I think it's a bummer about the competitive thing. I don't get it, but I do know a situation I can't change when I see one, kwim? So we'll finish out the season, shake hands, and take our ball elsewhere.

We'd planned to make a healthy contribution to the team later this fall. I'm thinking we'll buy more pellets for the wood stove now, hmm?

Eliza said...

Maybe a different team wold be more.... open minded about who can play?

The Queen said...

Nah, LOL -- this is the new league that formed because the other leagues were supposed to be too serious. Its motto is "Let kids be kids."

You really have to keep your sense of humor about these things. One of the other kids was just crushed -- his mom was really upset. In that situation, I would be, too.

Max is philisophical though. He's "taking what he likes" and leaving the rest. Now there's a life skill I'd be proud to be associated with.