Friday, March 09, 2007

A Heads-Up on Pushy Parents and Sports

"Yeah, boy! You ma' dog now!" a brawny parent encouraged his son, as his boy aggressively tackled my 6-year-old son to the floor, then snatched the ball from him.

I would have been cool with the parent's validating props for his athletically talented kid if the sport our sons were playing were, say, FOOTBALL.

As far as I know, and I'm far from well versed on the rulebook, tackling isn't allowed in BASKETBALL.

I'm growing weary of this parent showing up to Jr. NBA practice week after week and loudly, obnoxiously encouraging his son to whip kiddie ass in order to filch the ball and make a mad dash for the hoop.

Maybe I'm jealous that his kid's got game, whereas mine possesses none. Nope, my kid prefers to bust a move and pop and lock all around the ball, complete with freaky gang-sign style hand movements. Where does he pick this stuff up? (Certainly not from his hip hop addicted mama...)

My son's more like a raucous mascot (which is strange considering he's long suffered from mascot-a-phobia), riling up the crowd and sprucing up team morale with his robotic "Vanilla Ice, Ice Baby To Go" antics, than a real b-baller. He's more like a translucent white b-boy without a beat box.

So, back to this hyper competitive b-ball daddy I was kvetching about ... My annoyance with his aggressive parent-coach hybrid approach/stance reached an apex last Monday when he single handedly stopped the practice by storming onto the court and brandishing a pair of no-lens mystery goggles from his pocket, aiming them in the direction of his kid. He carefully lifted his son's thicket of dreadlocks and secured the Bono alien-style eye wear in place. "Okay, you can go on now," he declared as if he ran the joint.

What's the first thing his son did after his father took his seat off court? He took those fugly goggles right off and carelessly tossed them to the floorboards like a discarded candy wrapper.

"Oh, no you did-int', boy!" his father boomed across the court. "Stop! Stop! Wait up until I get them goggles back on my dog."

Yes, I lie not. Mister Competitive Dad refers to his son as "dog," or perhaps "dawg." Whatever it is, it smacks of the only judge I like on American Idol, who calls the contestants he feels "my dawg" and other equally mindless variations.

The dread locked boy, who is uncannily talented for a five-year-old at dribbling between his legs and shooting thee-pointers, looked defeated. He sighed and succumbed to his pushy father, allowing him to yank the strange empty eye-hole goggles over his head once more. "Boy, you best not be takin' those off AGAIN," his father's angry voice echoed.

"'You mind telling me what those goggles your son has on are for? They don't have any lenses, so they can't be corrective, right?" I asked him after practice, when he makes his son shoot baskets over and over until he's satisfied. Poor kid. Really.

"You better bet they're corrective," Mister Competitive Dad clucked with pride, a grin stretching across his bloated cheeks. "They correct the problem of my son looking at the floor like he does. They keep him from looking down. That's why players like him so much. He has no choice but to see who's open for a pass because he can't see down at all."

"So he can't even see his feet if he wanted to?"

"That's right!"

"How'd you find 'em?"

"You know, I see where he has weakness in his game and I Google whatever problem I want to fix. I buy him DVDs on how to be a better shooter, dribbler, all that. I also coach basketball, so I know about these things. Now he has no excuse when I tell him to keep his head up."

I couldn't even believe what I was hearing. This kid is only 5 and already his dad is all over him to be better, to play better, to be perfect. He's even limiting his child's field of vision in order to shape him as a future Kobe, Shaq or Jordan.

I'm not perfect. We all know that. I'm all about admitting my mistakes. But my kids play for fun. Not to be my retirement fund. The day it gets too serious is the day we take a break from sports and try our skills at something else.

I'll leave you with the product description of the KBA Heads-Up Dribble Aid Glasses my son's teammate reluctantly dons for his hard-driving, hopeful for a b-ball mogul in the family daddy:

"Helps develop good fundamentals in basketball handling by forcing players to dribble without looking at the ball.
Will not interfere in shooting the basketball.
Heads Up creates greater ball control, increased court awareness, more sensitive hands, focus"

By the way, these things are a steal, costing no more than $6 before taxes and shipping.

Who knows? Maybe at next week's practice my sons will sport some too. Doubtful.



At 3:58 PM, Blogger Heather said...

That is freakin' hilarious, albeit somewhat scary and sad.

I heart your stories Kim.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger liv said...

Kim, hon, I feel you as I begin my career as a soccer mom in the next week. I have done some minor, ahem, drilling with a smallish 4 year old boy and gone over the details of what he'll wear. I do have a buddy who has been really working her small child pretty hard. Don't see the point. Am fairly certain that my son will be the one blowing the 'feathers' off dandelions and watching for birds. Hey, it's spring in the south. We should all be grateful that we're outside with kids to watch.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Iris said...

Hey, did you see the goggles my dawg was sporting yesterday????

I gave up on my kids in competetive sports when my kid was benched for an entire hockey game during provincials because he was the weakest player on the team. It was humiliating for him and for me.

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Em said...

First of all, couldn't they think of a better name than 'dribble aid glasses'?? Sounds like he has a problem drinking his juicy juice!

Anyway, you told a very funny story about a very sad problem. Parents like that make me crazy. How can this kid really enjoy being a kid when he is being coached like an adult? I feel sorry for the kid. And for the whole team that is interrupted to this one dad can deal with is dawg.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Kind of Crunchy Mama said...

Ugh. I so want my kids to participate in something physical, whether it's dance or sports. But I'm so not looking forward to dealing with the parents.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger crazymumma said...

oh that poor kid. But I would bust the pops balls for allowing bad sportsmanship. In fact the coach should be talking to poppa about that......its supposed to be fun and fair.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Rural Writer said...

One thing you said really stuck with me; "My kid plays for fun not for my retirement fund". Brava!

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

Welcome to my soccer season. I can't wait to see all my least favorite parents out on the field, whoopin and a hollerin like they got game.

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