Hoop Dreams

February 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm 9 comments

     C is playing organized basketball. Those of you that know him in real life are chuckling at the moment. He’s easily a foot shorter than most of his peers, and he looks far more like a 7 year-old 2nd grader than an almost 11 year-old 5th grader. We managed to get him bumped back to the 4th grade team so he might at least have a chance to enjoy himself. Still, he’s by far the most inexperienced and least skilled person on his team. 

     The only reason we agreed to let him play is that this is an organization (Upward Sports – I’m a fan) that is supposed to be a supportive, less-competitive environment. It sounded as good as organized sports can get for C. We were hopeful. Nervous. Worried. All those things plus some.

     I had to sit on my hands during the first game, trying not to overwhelm C with hand signals and over-exuberance that he was actually staying inside the lines. He had it drilled into his head that he had to guard his guy, and guard him he did – both on offense and defense, and complete with constant jumping to make it harder for his opposing player to actually play. He got the ball a few times and tried to make shots, all failing miserably short of his goal. Still, overall, it was good. 

     C’s team has lost every game so far, and I’m happy to say it’s not completely due to C’s skills or lack thereof. This week, however, C’s team played a team that put all the others to shame. C was guarding a kid who was at least twice his weight, and when C stretched his arms up above his head, the boys were just about the same height. No one had much luck getting inside the scoring zone, and by the last period, we were behind 48 to 20, or something equally awful. Then the amazing happened. With only a few minutes left to go, C somehow ended up with the ball and drove right down the middle of the court. It was like the waters parted, and he made the shot. And then he did it again. And again. And again, ultimately scoring 8 points.

     What became clear to me in that moment was that the opposing team’s coach, recognizing that there was this tiny little guy trying his best to connect the ball with the hoop, had told his team not to guard C any longer. It wasn’t done in the spirit of, “This kid is so bad he doesn’t need guarding,” but rather, “This kid is trying so hard, let’s help him be successful.” The crowd – from both teams – went nuts. The refs were grinning ear to ear. C was so excited he jumped up and down like a jumping bean. 

     I’m not sure of that coach’s name, but I hope that he knows he did a really, really good thing that day. Somewhere, somehow, that karma is going to come back and get him, and I’m hard pressed to think of someone who deserves it more.

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I’m going straight to you know where I must…

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. akbutler  |  February 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I love this a hundred times over. Yay for C and yay for the really good people in the world.

    Reply
  • 2. WonderfullyFi  |  February 22, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Awesome awesome AWESOME!
    Love hearing stories like this :)

    Reply
  • 3. Justina & "S"  |  February 22, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Way to go C!!! Your friend, “S”

    Reply
  • 4. Kim  |  February 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    A few tears just slipped down my cheeks. What a wonderful experience for h. Hooray for the nice people in the world.

    Reply
  • 5. Marc  |  February 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Sure wish I could have been there.

    Reply
  • 6. Lizbeth  |  February 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    See, it’s people like that coach that make me believe in humanity. What an awesome experience for C and you. I bet you were doing everything you could not to come unhinged from the bleachers while watching him!

    Reply
  • 7. Erica  |  March 2, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Ooh, goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes! That is wonderful that C got to experience that.

    He looks so handsome in his uniform. Keep it up!!

    Reply
  • 8. John Ashley  |  March 5, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    C got the chance to score eight points, and the other coach got the chance to teach his players something beyond sports, only because Ma and Pa reached beyond their comfort zone and agreed to let C play. I’d say that everyone involved scored points – way to go team!

    Reply
  • 9. saphirecrackerjacksunnydelightsoutsideways  |  June 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I used to think that competitive sports, by definition, is insane. Why anyone would actually think to try to beat the opponent(s), to ‘win’ over them…

    In watching some particularly ‘driven’ high school girls play tennis, it was odd to me that they took it so ‘seriously’. And, when I saw my best friend get angry when he kept losing at ‘informal’ one-on-one matches of ‘garage basketball’, I knew it was insane.

    —But, then, in writing about why it was insane, I began to realize how, for some or even most kids, competition of some kind can be a healthy and even developmentally necessary thing.

    It was never so for me, though. Why in heaven’s name would I want to try to cause the volley to stop in volleyball?; or, to try to stop the tennis ball from being hit back to me? I thought that hitting the tennis ball back and forth was the irreducible essence of tennis. I still think it is: as a fun activity, it does not have any rules. It’s like flying an airplane as such, which may or may not have even one flight instrument, and, even if it does, one is not compelled by virtue of flying to act as if one has to fly it as if one cannot see outside the airplane. The sky is rather open.

    Now in my mid-forties, while I enjoy the action of basketball, I haven’t managed to graduate to the level at which I can actually bother to focus on ‘making sure the other team loses.’ That’s still a very odd thing for me to try to do. Very contrary to how I see the world through my own eyes. But, most importantly, I’m not caring to be made to feel a duty to see the world through any other sort of eyes than mine, I mean, in such a way that I am made to feel that I should be ashamed of seeing it the way I see it.

    Your story here shows a case of people knowing that competitive sports are supposed to be fun in general, as opposed to thinking that such sports are ‘fun’ strictly within the rules (as if such rules are equivalent to Civil and Criminal Law).

    My autism blog: http://paradoxofintensity.wordpress.com/

    Reply

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