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I attended my son’s first basketball game recently. As I watched these little guys in their oversized shirts stuffed into long baggy shorts, I was hopeful.
They had fun. They played hard. They were good sports. They tried their best. They learned some lessons, too.
They learned that you don’t always get the ball. They learned that sometimes you can make mistakes, but you are expected to keep playing and not quit. They learned that if you fall down, people care, but they want you to get up and keep going.
I saw some pretty amazing feats by a bunch of little kids. I saw a little girl; amongst all the boys take the ball down court while trying to keep her shorts on. She succeeded in keeping her pants on, but didn’t quite make the shot.
The other thing she was successful at was keeping up. She didn’t quit. She didn’t give up and she didn’t fall to pieces. She took care of business with a smile. This girl is going to be successful in life.
She was able to roll with the punches and keep her game face on. I have no idea who she is, but I loved this little girl.
I also noticed that some kids get the ball more than others. Some kids are superstars. Some kids aren’t. So, there’s another lesson. Some people are superstars and some people aren’t. Some of us get picked last.
I was that kid that got picked last. Always. In all sports.
I grew to learn that I wasn’t that good at sports. I wasn’t even that into sports. And as I stood there waiting to be picked, I remember the thoughts that went through my mind.
“I wish I was fast like my best friend. I wish I were coordinated like my second best friend. I wish I wasn’t so shy and awkward. I hate playing kickball, why do we have to play kickball? I will never be captain. I can’t be captain; I am too insecure and shy to choose the right people.
I would only choose people so they will like me. I suppose if I don’t want to be picked last I could try to play better and concentrate, but I don’t like kickball. Why can’t I go sit under that tree over there and read a book.”
But somewhere along the way, I was not destroyed and I found what I was good at other stuff. So, these kids playing basketball may begin to recognize that they are not the best and someone is better. But that is OK, because they will find their feet.
Watching these little people play made me hopeful. No parents interfered. No one got all vocal from the sidelines. The refs and coaches made appropriate calls and explained them.
These kids got to learn the sport, learn the rules, and learn about where they fit. I watched my son have fun and enjoy himself.
I saw him in a different light. I saw him trying hard and I saw him focused.
I don’t see that too often. He is no superstar. He is who he is. He walked away feeling good about his game. I don’t know about the other kids and how they felt, I hope they felt good. I hope they learned a few things about themselves and about life.
I hope they learned that we don’t always win, we don’t always have a perfect game, we might fall down, our pants might fall off, we might lose the ball, but if we keep trying and working hard, we will find our own success.
Los Alamos columnist