Monday, March 1, 2010

Basketball Yelling

For effect, I’m sure, the old man deliberately stood up and shook his fist as he began to yell.

“COME ON YOU IGNORANT ZEBRAS! Why don’t you put away your whistles and finally let a basketball game break out! We didn’t come here to see YOU IDIOTS blow those whistles!”

And then he emphatically added, “GOSHDARNIT!”

Except the grandpa in the stands at the basketball game, obviously frustrated with the number of fouls being called, didn’t really say “goshdarnit”. He was a bit more colorful.

Finally, he sat down and let out a hearty guffaw announcing to those around him, “Boy, in all my 78 years I have yet to find a goof ref. That’s why you gotta yell at them. You gotta set them straight.”

When the teenager’s high school basketball season began there was talk of sportsmanship and respect and personal growth. There was talk of hard work and goal setting and training schedules. There was talk of fundraising and parental volunteering and even, having a little fun playing some basketball.

Nobody, however, mentioned the yelling.

Just like the grandpa in the stands, a coach of one of the other teams in the league had an awful lot to say. You know the team I’m talking about. The well respected, super disciplined, naturally gifted, nationally ranked team that is undefeated this year.

The coach of that team called a time out and quickly ushered one of her players off the court. The coach’s face was 2 inches away from the girl’s face. The coach was seething and shaking and let loose, loud enough for the entire gym to take dictation. “WHAT COULD YOU HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN THINKING? Do you have any clue how to play basketball or were you just born a complete IDIOT!”

The entire gym was silent. We could hear every word. Even the teenager’s coach, trying to proceed with his own time out instructions, paused, not quite believing what he was hearing.

The coach of the other team continued her rant, “Did you see how that girl just made that basket? DID YOU SEE THAT? Or are you blind too? I think you must be blind to let her get by you like that! That basket is on your head. We could lose this game and it could be ALL YOUR FAULT! Now sit down because YOU. ARE. DONE.”

She then pointed her index finger at the 15 year old girl, right at that spot in the middle of her forehead just above her eyes and said with pursed lips, “I’ve told you before…I will only play winners.” She then motioned toward the line of chairs where all the subs sat and walked away, shaking her head.

The teenager’s coach took one look at the group of stunned teenage girls standing before him, focused only on the drama across the gym. “Look at me!” he demanded. “That is not us. We will play OUR game.” He tried to assure them again. “That is NOT us. You are all doing a fabulous job. Now….let’s go out there and finish this game. And let’s remember why we play this game. Because we love it and because it’s FUN.”

While it may not be unusual to have fans yelling at referees and coaches yelling at players, I was not prepared for the teenager herself to come under fire. The competition was intense, the game was close and the teenager was yet again at the foul line, shooting one of the 31 free throws she would shoot in the game. A mother from the other team started making her presence known. Each time the teenager would begin to shoot, the mother from the other team would yell out, “You’re gonna miss it, MISSY, you’re gonna miss it MISSY…because you know that you are NO good…MISS IT, MISS IT……..WOOOOOOO!”

I was surprised how quickly my usually passive nature was replaced with thoughts that any mother bear protecting her cubs would easily identify with. And while I did manage to control myself until the end of the game, I was still fuming on the way home in the car.

“This yelling at basketball games is really starting to bother me. It is not good!” I said to the teenager, a bit louder than I had intended.

“First it was that grandpa in the stands, and then it was that awful, angry coach. And now, today, there was that loud mouthed horrible mother from the other team yelling at you! Basketball should be fun, just like your coach said. All of this yelling does not make basketball fun!”

When we arrived home the teenager turned on the television to her favorite college team’s basketball game. Her team was behind and was not playing well.

The teenager immediately started yelling at the screen, “You are frickin’ idiots! How could you possibly have thought that shot was a good idea! Bunch of….LOOOOOO-SERS!"

Shocked, I asked the teenager if she had heard a word that I had said in the car about all of this yelling at basketball games.

“Oh, I heard everything you said,” the teenager replied. “Sometimes you just gotta yell though. That’s why I like watching basketball on TV. I can yell all I want at the players and coaches and no one can hear me! I’m not hurting anyone’s feelings. Isn’t it great mom?”

Just as she finished her sentence she started yelling again, “Oh, come on ref there’s no WAY that was a charge. He wasn’t set!”

And as I turned toward the TV to see what the teenager was talking about I heard the animated announcers commenting on the ref’s call, “Wow! A lot of people are unhappy with that call. We’ve got coaches, players and the fans all doing a whole lot of yelling right now. But then, Jim, isn’t that half of what makes basketball so much fun? The yelling?”

Check This Out!

Spring is just around the corner. If you need a respite from all of the basketball yelling in your home during March Madness, may I suggest you consider the calming effects that some nice quiet gardening could have on your life.

You could start by reading this fabulous book. Better Homes and Gardens, Garden Doctor, Advice from the Experts- 1021 Questions Answered. This is great bedtime reading chock full of short, easy to understand answers to all of the gardening questions you didn't even know you had.

And once you are done reading, head to your local garden store and pick up a pack of these Ed Hume Dwarf Cherry Rose Nasturtium seeds. This is a super easy to grow annual and a nice change of pace from the usual orange, yellow and red nasturtiums. Even the back of the seed package says, "Thrives in poor soil. Needs no fertilizer and very little water." How much easier can it get? I've planted nasturtiums for quite a few years in recently overturned sod that, after years of grass breakdown would eventually become a flowerbed. While I waited however, the nasturtiums covered the ugly mess and looked fabulous.