Basketball Play

Actual basketball play for nine-year-olds

Originally we planned on blogging live from the Academy Awards, but apparently security at the Kodak theatre decided to keep it tight this year, and somehow we made “the list,” so they stopped us at the back door (we thought we were pretty secure in that cello case) and graciously allowed us to stay in a holding cell downtown. With nothing else to do, we sat back and recollected on our son’s now-completed season of youth basketball. And the reason we recollected it all so clearly is because we were forced to attend every game, which, really, we loved. Honestly.

And Saturday was their official send-off: the all-star game.

So, the first thing we noticed upon arriving at the school gymnasium was the fact that other people were there, which really annoyed us. But we found out that if you want to play a basketball game you need other players and the other players tend to have parents who are staying to watch because the players are only nine and someone needed to drive them to the game anyway and it sure wasn’t going to be their older sister Trisha who has more important things to do now that she’s sixteen and dating Bradley who’s colossally awful grunge band is obviously going to make it big very soon and who cares of if dad promised to wrap a guitar around that cretin’s head the next time he caught him sneaking into daughter’s room on a Saturday night?

Also, the school used the game as a fund-raiser, meaning they made us pay a dollar to get in, which sounded pretty cheap and made us wonder if they really needed the money or just wanted to extract one more slice of pain from us before calling it a day.

But it’s all about the kids. In that spirit, they set up the basketball court to reflect the true NBA experience by making it look exactly like it has for every other game, but they piped in some poorly chosen club music and played it really loud and a beer cost eight bucks. Probably. They were out of beer. At least, we’re assuming they were out of beer because the kids running the concession stand only had soda and water available. Anyway, to complete the experience they even played a canned national anthem where the singer hung way too long on the word “free.” (You know what we’re talking about.)

The coolest part was the player introductions. That part they actually gave a fun, authentic feel to. After arriving, some random person who we just assumed worked there asked our son two questions for his introduction: How tall did he want to be? And what college did he want to come from?

He answered, “six-foot-four and Tennessee.”

Of course, we asked him, “So you want to be taller than your dad and go to a completely different college?”

He said, “Yup.”

If we’re being honest, during the game we were this close to running out on the court and blocking one of his shots and saying, “How does our six-foot-two look to you now?” Easy tiger, we didn’t do it. We just wanted to.

And then came the half-time show.

See, if you’re reading this and thinking, hey, relax man, they’re just kids having fun, we have to tell you that you are totally wrong. We can see the gears turning in their nine-year-old heads, and those gears are telling them, “If you play your cards right, you can make Dad buy you ice cream after the game.” But half-time was the real problem. At half-time they put half-court shooting contest. One dollar to play, a basket wins you ten. At first, parents were giving their kids a buck to go for a shot, but after a dozen or so kids went through the line the event organizers started asking the adults to pony up and go out for a shot. And who was the first parent to go out there? MojoFiction. That’s right, because we’ve never been able to handle peer pressure.

When we stepped onto the court, no one had yet made a half-court shot, so we got in line behind about three other kids, including our own basketball-wielding offspring. Just before our turn, one of the kids finally launches a shot that banks in. The crowd goes nuts and the kid thinks he’s the next LeBron. At this point, you should know that it was, like, his sixth attempt, so we only clapped lightly. Then we paid our dollar and immediately we were told to step back about ten extra feet for our shot. We didn’t complain, because we were only there to show up the kids and we can do that from anywhere on the kid-sized basketball court. So we launched our shot and, of course, it clanged off the front of the rim. We smiled politely and shrugged, but inside we were really ticked because we planned on blaming any missed shot on the lowered basket for our miss, but when you clang a shot off the front of the rim on a lowered basket, you’ve got nothing.

After the game we were conversing with our son about the whole experience. He said he really enjoyed it, but he thought the funniest thing was when, after we missed our half-court shot, one of his little friends said, “How embarrassing. An adult can’t make a shot when a kid can.”

“That was funny?” we asked.


“Oops, was that the ice cream shop we just drove by without stopping?”

So the season is over. No more kids scrambling up and down the court, dribbling the ball head-high, passing it into the feet of their teammates, shooting it straight up in the air and back down onto their own heads, no more … ah, nuts. You know what? As a parent, we’re going to miss it. Good times.

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