I’m Giving Up Basketball for Lent

Much as I love basketball, I am relieved that, except for the upcoming (but as yet unscheduled) playoffs, Middle Sister’s season is over for the year.

Watching her basketball game was a near occasion of sin for me today. We’re supposed to avoid those things, right?

No, I wasn’t swearing. I was tempted, but I didn’t. I signed that CYO basketball agreement that said I would keep my language clean and encourage my child to do the same. Swearing wasn’t the problem.

However, the problem was holding my tongue. I did it, but it wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t proud of the struggle I had to go through to do it. Jesus spoke about the intent being as bad as the sin itself (Matthew 5:28) and if it weren’t for the fact that my daughter was out there on that court playing her heart out, I could have easily gotten up and walked out.

No, I wasn’t yelling at the refs. Plenty of parents were–and most of those were from the other team. At one point I thought that the refs were going to kick out one kid’s dad, who wasn’t satisfied that an intentional foul was called against one of our players who had mugged his daughter, and that she had 2 shots on that technical foul. (What did he want? Should our player have been arrested for assault and battery? The kid is a 7th-grader!)

I spent an awful lot of time during that game trying to keep my mouth shut. OK, I did yell stuff like “Good defense” and “Great job” because that’s what I do when I watch basketball. I am not the coach. I am not the ref. It is not my job to tell the girls what to do, or to call the walks and fouls and back-court passes. But there were a lot of parents sitting on the bleachers today (close enough so I could hear them) who were trying to do the refs’ job.

Let me tell you, those refs don’t get paid enough for what they put up with from the sports parents.

Anyway, I was trying very hard to keep my mouth shut during that game. Because I wanted to shoot back at those parents who were yelling about my daughter who was working hard on defense, covering the player she was assigned to cover. Yeah, sometimes she covered a little too, well, physically. But there was plenty of ugly to go around on both sides. Middle Sister didn’t foul out (she had four, before the 4th quarter) and, like the rest of her team, she never gave up. Those kids fought hard right to the bitter end of this game. They lost by 15 points and the other team’s parents were still busy going on about how our team “needs to learn to play basketball” and was “too physical.” But the Mama Bear in me was struggling with whether to open my mouth and tell those other parents to stop dissing my child and her teammates, or whether to keep it charitable since I had just been to church.

I was outwardly charitable, anyway. But that was a really hollow victory. And I’m still really upset about this whole thing.

CYO basketball this week has been fairly ugly. After Thursday night’s game, as Middle Sister and I walked through the parking lot to our car, a girl from the other team mouthed “You suck” at her through her car window. Nice. Did I mention that this is a CYO league? And then today.

Middle Sister has a bad taste in her mouth after all this; she claims that this is her last season of basketball. And while I think that she’ll do well in track next year, it’s a shame that she’s leaving the sport on bad terms.

It’s only a game. Why do people have to make so much of it? Why can’t they just let the kids play, and learn, and listen to the coaches and refs? These are 7th- and 8th-graders–this is not March Madness. Get a grip, basketball parents!

3 thoughts on “I’m Giving Up Basketball for Lent

  1. OLGC perhaps? Or SH (not the MH one)?I really disliked CYO ball – of course for the kids at my son's now closed elementary school, we always joked that basketball was their lesson in humility since they never had much of a team and were used to getting beat by 20 points (if the other school started their second string) or more.

  2. "It's only a game. Why do people have to make so much of it?" Wish I had the answer for you! I used to coach soccer for both Boudreaux and Thibadeaux, and I had a father on Boudreaux's team who was such a jerk, I actually had to get the Sheriff to come down and talk to him during one game! He tried to start a fistfight with parents from the other team!! He screamed at his son the entire time, he was horrible!! Then he had the nerve to say that the problem was that I was a southerner (They were from Long Island), and southerners were nothing but a bunch of overly polite….well, he said we were pussycats….kind of. Mind you, these kids were 4& 5 years old!!

  3. Oh, Barb, I struggle with this. well, struggle is perhaps not the correct word. I wish I struggled with it more. Because I have a big huge mouth. I don't yell at kids or refs that hey are not doing well, but I am, ahem, vocal.The worst part of it all for me is that my husband coaches my kids in basketball and baseball. I have to sit far away from other parents when I go to watch games because I don't want to hear the smack talk about any of my boys. And let me just say this about CYO teams. Last year, my eldest son played for the CYO at our parish. Second grade basketball. It was terrible. This year he plays for our PAL. It's so much better. the kids are nicer, the parents are nicer. And he's the only one who goes to Catholic school. Isn't that interesting?

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