Last night was supposed to be the last game of the Upward basketball season. However, we have one make up game due to ice, so next week is the actual last game. It has been a good season and overall good experience. This is our first year playing with Upward. We love the devotion time at practice and at games. It is great to show kids how parts of playing sports can be compared to our Christian faith. We will most likely enroll the middle boys to play again next year.
I guess with the center of this organization around Jesus and His love for us, I was expecting to be a little more accepting of all the kids and their supporters. I am a competitive person, mind you, but that is not the part of me that caused the dissonance in spectating last night. With this being a church league, having only volunteer coaches and referees, I would expect lots of fun and lots of teaching. Don't misunderstand, there are lots of both, but not to the level I expected.
Here is what I mean. At last night's game, parents were yelling at the referees. Please keep in mind that the players are 9 and 10 year old boys and girls. This occurred throughout the game and focused on points and winning, and I think that is ridiculous. These kids are here to learn, have fun, and play. That is why I signed my son up for this league.
In addition, one player was so caught up in the idea of stealing the ball that he failed to play defense and instead just mauled any player dribbling the ball. Then, when the ref would blow his whistle and try to coach him up on how he was "reaching in", the kid would argue back and even growled with a terrible glare once.
I wanted the coach to take him out of the game, but there were no substitutes. I wanted the coach to reprimand him for his disrespect and bad attitude. I wanted the referees to put him in time out.
Understandably, the parents of the other team were upset about his fouling. He is on my child's team and I was embarrassed by his behavior and disappointed that no one stepped in to help him calm down or coach him in a way as to prevent this kind of behavior in the future.
As I type this, I realize that the referees and coaches are not trained in dealing with kids and their behaviors. I think what made it difficult for me was that it was all pretty much out of my circle of control, and so I was just a spectator. "Hands up defense. Get your hands up on defense, blue," I yelled out a couple of times, trying to get the kids to go back to what they had learned at practice. But, it did no good. The little boy kept reaching and fouling and giving mean looks at players and referees. When kids are your business, it is hard to keep your knowledge and know-how under wraps at times that you are not the adult in charge. Any help from my perspective would have just made things worse at that point anyway.
We lost the game by 14 points, so it wasn't even very close. After the game, I talked to my son about what I had seen from the bleachers, and how that made me feel as a mom. He wanted to make excuses for his teammate and blame the other team for "cheating". I did what I could do with "coaching" words for him. That's about all I can do.