Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sometimes it's hard to be Ogram

Like when I am sitting in a gym watching a precious granddaughter play basketball.

That's not the hard part - watching any body play sports is fun!  Watching 12 years olds who are just learning is sweet  and heartwarming as they run hard and have to try 10-15 times to make a basket.   And I watched her - at times guarding her player fiercely, running up and down the court, other times  tentative and shy but  she was out there trying.

Then at one point the other team is driving  down court with the ball and I could see her freeze and  just miss the play.  She looked awkward and  miserable.  I could not hear what her coach said to her - but I could see his face and gestures which expressed disgust and blame.  At the next time out, she was out and did not return to play again.  This was her last game.

But that is not all of the morning.  I was sitting near several men who spent the entire game both "coaching" the girls from the stands and questioning almost every call that the refs were making.  They were going on and on  telling the girls to get the rebound, do a bounce pass,  put their hands up, etc. etc.  Complaining as the ref missed fouls on their team and  keeping track of how many fouls individual girls had  so they can get them out of the game.

Because I played sports as a girl I know it is competitive.  I have my own stories about being cut from a team or sitting on the bench.   I am thinking that 12 year olds are playing sports - not just for the sharpening their skills - but also for learning about how to work with a team and how to get stronger in defeats and sometimes with unfair calls or unkind people.  I understand that. However, I am really uncomfortable with the whole idea of toughening up anybody through blaming and shaming.  And that is too often what I see going on in the coaches and in the spectators.

So, this really is a rant about how what could be beautiful too often is ugly.  And an appreciation for the people who stretch themselves  to coach, to ref and to play. Even though sometimes they will make mistakes that might hurt others and lose games. They have at least put themselves "in the arena."  It all reminds me of this quote from Teddy Roosevelt.

 It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
 or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; 
who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
 but who does actually strive to do the deeds; 
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
 who spends himself in a worthy cause; 
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, 
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

It  is hard to be Ogram when my granddaughter has put herself in the arena, stumbled and then has to sort out what to do next.
 It is hard not to give her platitudes  and my wise advice.
 But instead, she will spend the night and probably not talk about it at all.
 We will play games,  eat ice cream and watch TV.
And that may be enough for now.

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