Thursday, December 6, 2007

Aren't we all on the B-team Most of the Time?

Growing up attending Catholic elementary school and high school (and college and grad school too, but that’s another matter), there was only one extracurricular activity available for social outlets in the seventies. Sports. This worked well if you were tall, athletic, coordinated, had stamina, strength, popularity or hustle. Nowhere in that list are the qualities, sense of humor or good with words. I dreamed of making the “A team.”

Then eighty’s television sort of hijacked that phrase to connote a black and red van with a Mr. T.

But the status of “B team” has remained unchallenged. Living in a county where birthing is considered a competitive sport, there have been systemic attempts to destroy the very essence of a “B-team.” These parents worry their kids self esteem will be irreparably damaged if they suffer the humiliation of knowing someone else is better at something than they. These attempts have failed even more impressively than the b-teams themselves.

Method #1: Not keeping score. Like that worked. Anyone who has ever been at a pee-wee soccer game where the parents don’t keep score was not paying attention. Just go up to a parent of a kid who does well. “My kid scored six goals!” Just go to a parent of a kid who did poorly. “She tried really hard. That team was tough. “ “She let in six goals!” the dad will whisper with hints of despair while mentally planning on going to the nearest sporting goods store to buy a net and a new soccer ball and spend the rest of the day coaching his offspring on how to be a goalie. The parents can deny the reality on paper by not writing down a score, but they and the kid doing the end zone dance after snack and the one moping in her cupcakes know the truth.

Method #2: A Team by any other name. Team I and Team II, that didn’t work for obvious reasons. Apples and Oranges? Red and Blue? Naming the teams as equals never worked. Why? Because the instant a scrimmage starts up, Everyone knows who the athletic kids are. This is an American oddity, that we fear acknowledging excellence for fear of putting down everyone else. We don’t want a kid to be a ball hog. However, the kids on the team know “He can shoot, he can score.” Guess what they do, feed the ball to the hog.

Method #3: Revisionist Theory in Application. Twenty first century values demand that all heroes be fallen ones, and all lesser or supporting casts be simply as of yet undiscovered vastly underrated prospects. I've seen people on the sideline praise the slightest moment of competence by a poor player stumbling down the court as being "Michael Jordanesque" while the true ace player of the team hustles to capture the bad bounce pass from said teammate. The mental yoga that these adults engage in is amazing. It’s like parents doing a high five with a kid for bringing home a “C.”

Then, reality reasserts itself. With two minutes left in a tight game, the kids on the bench were shouting, “NO, pass it to Her! HER!” Ball sharing was for when you were up by ten or more with no time left.

Method #4: Marxism. Some people at my son’s school tried doing an even exchange, in basketball. Each coach got two prime players, two decent players, two coachable players , one headache and one hopeless. Both teams had losing seasons. Losing seasons are okay. The kids will live. The pizza at the end of the season party still tastes as good. In the adults, however, there is a note of desperation in that creeps into even the most zealous advocate of communism in the sporting world as they stare at the prospects of another 0-8 season.

The problem with "A teams" is they require a High Physical standard. It's intangible but identifable. Today in America, we are discouraged from even acknowledging anything but excellence. Some parents unfortunately swallow this Kool-Aid. Children and their accomplishments have become part of the adult resume. "Hello, my name is ....and my kids are currently learning German, Russian, Sanskrit, making mock replicas of the seven wonders of the world out of toothpicks and training for the Olympics. They performed tap dance at the State House last year for the Easter Egg Roll and are ranked amongst Who's Better than Who in American Parents' Magazine. Want to see my web site? It has a day by day documentary plus commentary on their struggles to write the next great American novel."

Parents, being obsessive in their love for their children, often fail to recognize that a C is not an A, no matter how much you love them. Someone who can't shoot, can't dribble and can't pass should not be on the A team any more than someone who spells "towards" twoard should be given full points on a spelling test. We can't helicopter/spell check our children out of all their faults and weaknesses. If we do, we'll fail them morally and academically, as surely as "The Dairy of Anne Frank" can slip by Microsoft Word's spell check in a book report.

Fortunately, reality has a way of correcting these issues, even if it takes a season to do so.

No one wanted another perfect losing season. After that year, the coaches reasserted themselves in the draft picks, calling them A and B teams and everyone was clear on the matter.

Some parents were fuming mad that their kids weren’t on the A teams.

Intervention Time Out

The head coach/director however was having none of it. Rather than talk to irrational people rationally about being reasonable, he tacked up a picture of “Mr. T” with the caption, “I pity the fool who argues with me. You’re on the team, be it A or B! Anyone who argues will take the blame. He or she will be banned from the game. “

Both teams had winning seasons. Eating pizza in celebration, I swore I heard the coach/cyo director say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

EDITOR'S NOTE and LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Please remember this is a humor blog. Any resemblance to reality is unintentional except to the extent it makes you laugh.


L. Lemanski said...

Wow . . .well put! As a teacher it pained me when my department encouraged us to give students not just two chances to get an A, but three, four, or even more if they needed it. After all, no child should be left behind! Not only was I overworked, but the students felt it was their right to do well, to get the best grades, to be praised, adored by all. I understand more than ever why so many kids have this air of self-entitlement.

Christine said...

As a mother of four good, kind-hearted, witty, interesting, but not particularly disciplined or athletic sons, I often wonder:

"WHY is EVERYONE ELSE'S CHILD an A student with state rankings in at least one sport?"

I think, maybe, most people are beefing up their kids' resumes, to make the Moms and Dads feel better.

Me, I'm raising average kids. They're not necessarily going to run the world, but they're going to be good people.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!