Daddy Ball and Why I Hate It

If you’re like me, the word tween brings many things to mind — most of them, I’d be willing to bet, having to do with transition. Because that’s what being a tween is all about. Transitioning from a young child into a teenager.

And, I gotta say, there’s a lot of upside to parenting tweens, especially if you still have a bunch of “littles” running around. For example, I appreciate that my oldest doesn’t feel compelled to collect pebbles.

And evenly disperse them in each and every one of our commodes.

But parenting tweens presents its fair share of challenges, too, which makes sense when you think about it. Because transitions are almost always challenging. Luckily, my wife and I are faring pretty well, and I believe it’s because we’ve been able to anticipate the areas of our daughter’s transition which were most likely to cause us grief. And it’s a lot easier to deal with something if you can see it coming.

Which is why my daughter’s current basketball season has been somewhat difficult for me. Because I never saw it coming. But I should have.

You see, Alli’s not only a tween when it comes to boys, attitude, attire and pop culture. She’s also tween when it comes to sports. Well beyond the age where participation is the main focus, yet not quite old enough to play for the competitive teams at her school which, obviously, are coached by educational professionals. Folks who are qualified and, in fact, get paid to coach.

The end result is a competitive league comprised of “Daddy” coaches who may or may not be qualified to coach on such a level. Ergo, Daddy Ball.

This is the part where I bring to light a few things. First, there’s nothing wrong with Daddy Ball. Nor is there anything wrong with the Dads (and Moms) who volunteer to coach their children’s teams. In fact, I coached one of Alli’s teams when she was five. (Once the triplets came around, my coaching career came to an abrupt conclusion.)

Also, it’s not like Daddy Ball has been suddenly thrust upon Alli. She’s never known anything but.

But this is also the part where I tell you that thanks to her tween status, things are different this year. The teams in her league are extremely focused on results, more so than any past year as well they should be. And it’s through that pursuit of results that I’ve come to realize that some of the coaches in my daughter’s league aren’t qualified to coach on this level.

Oh, sure. They were fine when it was all about the experience. But now that it’s about results, it’s easy to spot the ones who are in over their heads. And I say that from the perspective of someone who (a) knows the game of basketball pretty doggone well and (b) someone who has six years of coaching experience (only one of those years in the capacity of parent).

Example: There’s one coach who insisted his team run an offense predicated on high-ball screens against a two-three defense. And high-ball-screen offenses are only effective against man-to-man defenses, but whatever. Because it’s not little things like that which get me bent out of shape. (Though they certainly don’t help!)

But you know what does get me bent out of shape? The behavior I’ve seen from some of these coaches. Personality traits which never came out when the kids were more concerned about the post-game snacks than the final score.

Poor sportsmanship abounds. Needlessly (and in some cases, endlessly) challenging the authority of the referees. Berating their own players. And while I fully support the competitive nature of this league (after all, the world keeps score, y’all), some of the coaches seem to have a piece of their esteem caught up in all this.

Some of them seem to derive some sort of vicarious satisfaction through these little 10-year-old girls, the same ones who sell Girl Scout Cookies, the same ones who are smitten with Justin Bieber, and the same ones who believed in Santa just last year. A satisfaction which, try as it may, will never fix whatever it is that’s broken to the extent that it’s compelled to actively seeks such validation. From such an unlikely source, to boot.

It goes without saying that not every coach in the league is like the above description. But it also goes without saying that I’ve seen enough who are to leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.

On the one hand, I get it. We live in a world of Lance Armstrongs. A world of win at all costs. A world of fabricated love interests which become part of a national story line that helps buoy an Heisman candidate. A world that cares about the bottom line and little else.

So on the one hand, I suppose it’s possible that more of the same could be in store for me in the years to come.

But on the other, I don’t remember all that garbage when I was playing sports during my school years. And I have so much faith in Alli’s school. So much faith in its administration, its teachers, and, yes, its coaches, too.

So, to that end, I’m so ready to say good bye to Daddy Ball, you have no idea.

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Read more of JCO Multiplied:
My Life’s Profound New Goal
NYC Nanny Killings: Personalizing the Tragedy
7 Things You Should NOT Discuss With the Parents of Triplets
How the DVR Ruined My Vacation in Specific and Parenting in General
15 Things Every Stepparent Should Know
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Check out my personal blog over at JohnCaveOsborne(dot)com

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