Saturday, March 5, 2011
Basketball--Senior year--Life lessons
Another Wisconsin White Winter means basketball. This year we had 5 children playing on 3 teams. I have pictures of everyone that I've been waiting to post during the month of March Madness. I'll post the younger four later but want to highlight Troy in his senior season with this post. Not all of the comments are about Troy, but I'm using his pictures.
March Madness: If you'd have asked me 30 years ago what I thought "March Madness" meant I'd have probably made a guess that had something to do with Lewis Carroll or some similar sort of children's literature.
I've been educated and now know that March means basketball tournaments, all month long. Owen just said a month or so ago, "I hope I get sick in March so I can lay on the couch and watch basketball all day." This morning Bryce and Owen both woke up with fevers, and spent all day lying on couches, watching college basketball much of the time. As amazing as it seems that he got his wish, he actually missed his goal by a few weeks. True, college basketball is on all day today, and Owen's enjoyed watching it between naps; but the real deal doesn't start until March 17--St. Patrick's Day--Vince's first birthday, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. I think that tournament ranks second only to Christmas for event-to-look-forward-to in our house. And I'd never even heard of it.
Although I really do enjoy keeping up with the tournament, filling in my brackets, and listening to the boys laugh at my unlikely predictions I MUCH prefer watching my own children play on whatever team they play. I don't care if they win or lose, I don't really care about the level of talent, and I don't care about (or keep track of) the team record. I just like watching them because they're mine. I try hard to be a team fan, but the fact is, if my kid wasn't there I wouldn't be there either.
I don't find it agonizing to go to game after game watching loss after loss. I'm not disappointed with low scoring totals. I don't really care if my child plays the whole game or less than half the game. My greatest joy comes from watching them work hard, enjoy themselves, improve, and learn the invaluable lessons they learn by being put in intense situations that test their character in high-stress, emotional, public situations.
It is definitely enjoyable to watch my children make three-point shots, steal the ball, block a shot of someone bigger than themselves, sink free throws, or lead the team in rebounds.
But when I think of personal highlights for me there are two things that stand out.
Fisrt of all, I love seeing my children have the opportunity to play together. As much as you try to get them to work together at home, they tend to be against each other in any type of sibling games or competition. If it's one on one, they're opposed. If they make teams the two oldest head the teams and they're opposed. This year, for Troy(44) and Shane (14), they got to be teammates, and I loved it.
(Look close and you'll see that Troy and Shane's faces are the only two that are visible here--Troy, center left under the arms; Shane, center right over the arms.)
The second thing I love is seeing them learn and improve in their ball playing skills and in their behavior and personal fortitude. Seeing Lisa go from literally standing stock still like a traffic guard with arms outstretched in her first game to dribbling the ball and putting up her first shot in her last game was a delight. Her smile beamed for a full minute after she shot the ball, and she didn't even make the shot! Another high moment was seeing Troy foul out of a game (following a couple of very questionable foul calls), then calmly take his place on the bench and cheer his team on.
Clean block followed by a called foul.
There were some behavioral low moments, as well, much lower than finishing a game with substandard stastics. Those moments weren't wasted however. Good can come from being exposed and vulnerable.
I don't think people realize how hard it is to be in the public eye, under scrutiny, during trying times. Every movement, grimace, eye-roll, or shake of the head is watched by a crowd. When the media is there, it's also a matter of public record.
As public as the trials were, and as much as they gave plenty of people reason to make judgments and engage in easy conversations about the lack of character/sportsmanship/integrity they witnessed, they had value.
The value came from talking about the situation after the incident, challenging them on what God's word says about dealing with such a situation, questioning them on ways they could have handled it better, or how they would feel seeing someone else act like they had acted, or hearing someone say what they had said. They had the opportunity to fail publicly and see the result of their 'self' shining through for all to see, including seeing it themselves. They benefited from the backlash they got from family or friends by being put face to face with their shortcomings. We all have shortcomings and flaws, but we aren't all tested (especially publicly) in a way that lets us see what we're made of. It's true that, "The heart is deceitful above all things...who can know it?" We deceive ourselves and don't even know it, often. Failing, or just messing up, helps open our eyes, helps us see the need for change, and helps us look Godward for that change. Being tested and seeing yourself fail pushes you to stand firm the next time.
The joy of rising above the challenge and coming out on top the next time is well worth the failure.
(#45 was 6'9" tall and won the conference Player of the Year award. It was no easy thing getting shots past him.)
Because of all the good that can come from it, I can take the public criticism and deal with the negative comments and opinions. It never feels good to hear bad things said about your child, but my goal is not that they portray perfection so I can look good. My goal is that they would be growing in Christ, and if that comes at the expense of the good opinions of others while God tries them, so be it.
Last Tuesday, all of our teams had their last game. The seasons are finished and schedule-weary parents are ready for a break...until baseball season.