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14 Jan

It’s O.K. We know “he doesn’t play.”

I have a 15 year old son who started playing basketball for the first time in 8th grade. When the first game rolled around, he barely knew the rules let alone any of the plays. He stuck with it, though, and got some play time since he was still in middle school and there was an “A, B, and C” game. He moved into 9th grade at the high school and thought long and hard about going out for basketball. He knew there would be little if any play time at this level—there’s just one game and the team needs to win.

He did decide to join the team, though, and as expected, he barely ever plays. Although it might be a little frustrating for him, he gets it and isn’t upset or bitter (on most days anyway). We get it, too. We don’t have any complaints and if the coaching was left up to us, we would most likely be playing the same kids with the same will to win!

It’s the bleachers that bring me to this blog. I love to watch the other parents and interact with them. They don’t know what to say since “he doesn’t play,” though. They aren’t sure how we’re taking it, if we have complained to the coach and the administration, or if maybe we simply don’t understand that you need to start this sport when you’re 5 and travel till you drop. They look us over and probably figure that we, too, were poor athletes or at best grew up in a small town where everybody got to play because there were barely enough kids to make the team. Nobody waves at us when we enter the gym to come sit with them or banters with us when they head out for some popcorn. When we work the concessions, they do everything possible to talk about anything but “he doesn’t play.” I feel horrible when I compliment other parents on their son’s success during the game. I see their eyes roll back and their blood pressure go up for what in the world are they going to say after their initial gracious response.

I never see pictures on Facebook of the kid who “doesn’t play.” I should probably lead the charge. If you are the parent of a successful athlete, please know that the “don’t play” parents like you and are happy to visit. Most of us are probably thrilled that our student is active and is getting much needed exercise in this day and age of youth obesity. We still believe that a team activity is the first step to success in the workplace and a busy schedule makes a better schedule when it comes to organization and academic success. I also believe strongly that we learn a whole lot in preparation for life when we sit on the bench and swallow our pride.

All of this said, I’m going to try a new outfit for the next game. Maybe I just need to dress more like a “Winner” Mom!

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