Winter basketball season has once again come to an uneventful end.  Without fanfare or regret, we bid adieu to another four months of family togetherness, a time of covertly disparaging our own children’s apparent lack of athletic giftedness, while overtly blaming their inadequacies on the poorly prepared coaches and obviously half-blind refs; and–like that storied Shakespearean favorite, Iago–we find ourselves embracing our own tendency towards schadenfreude, through the surreptitious whispering in one friend’s ear our keen–though somewhat reluctantly delivered–observations concerning the athletic “challenges” of another friend’s child…who just so happens not to be present.  Just as Lauren, thoughtfully philosophical and somewhat sex-crazed protagonist from Broken Hallelujah:  notes from a marriage, recognized the stages of one’s life which come around full circle, the basketball courts’ sidelines afford us the indulgence of nostalgia, so that we may once again revisit that inimitable middle school era when we first learned to simultaneously befriend and denigrate the popular crowd, while, at the same time, hiding our own budding eating disorder behind the pretense of adhering to a sophisticated yet little known health trend.

Of course, one can’t help but reflect upon the myriad of emotions, the inevitable highs and lows (if you will) inspired by an entire season in which one’s life is inundated with game play and team spirit.  Happiness (“Yes!  There is only one game I need to watch on Saturday”) can quickly shift, the very next week, to horror (“What??? four basketball games on Saturday???  Well, there goes my plan of eating through our 12 boxes of Thin Mints while binge watching House of Cards“).  And, then, invariably…confusion (“Why can’t they just make the league more competitive, so my kids can get cut before the season even begins?”).  I imagine the actual players experience their own unique–yet no less significant–range of emotions as well…

So why do we do it, you may ask; why do we commit ourselves and our progeny to the relentless pursuit of relentlessly Democratic equal-playing-time house league sports?  Well, I suppose the answer lies in all that our children reap from those sports-lesson seeds that are sown.  For example, I literally get teary eyed witnessing the way in which my eldest son, a young teen, becomes practically subsumed within the collective spirit of his basketball cohorts.  It is as if the coach, through his maniacal screaming, during each and every game, of:  “TAKE IT TO THE HOLE” and “GET THAT BALL TO THE HOLE,” is expressing his implicit understanding of just what it is that constitutes the actual driving force, the unequivocal motivation, for each of these young boys now, and–most likely– for the rest of their lives.

Although both parents and players have now been granted a much needed three week reprieve before the rigors of spring house league are thrust upon us, I for one find myself once again looking forward to the staunch directives delivered to that team that has in its own way become, in the season’s few short months, practically a family:  PENETRATE THE FRONT END, FOCUS ON YOUR BALL, and STUFF THAT HOLE…

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