Monday, April 29, 2013

Learning About Team Spirit

Organized sports are wonderful. They allow kids to have fun, to play hard and to exercise. They are also, however, supposed to benefit kids in many other ways, and many coaches (and parents) tend to forget about  these benefits. I don't expect any of my children to make it to the NBA (shocking, I know) so why are they playing basketball? They play for the sport and the fun, of course. But I also hold out hope, as a parent, that they are learning about sharing, listening to others, passing the ball when necessary, taking direction and more.

I've been thrilled this year to see just how much Yehuda is learning these lessons. I don't know if his coach and his team are unique, but I would certainly love to see their style replicated the world over. Recently, they were playing a team that wasn't very good. The score was already something like 15 to 4 in the first quarter. Yehuda's coach gathered the kids together and told them that they weren't allowed to steal the ball for the rest of the game, and they weren't allowed to play aggressively. Yes, they could continue to try to win, but they shouldn't do so in a way that would embarrass the other team.

Amazing.

Then, last week, I was driving the basketball carpool home and asking the kids how the game went. Yehuda was telling me about the baskets that he made, and I asked the other kid if he had also made baskets.

"No," he said. And then he was quiet.

When he got out of the car, Yehuda explained to me that he was the only kid on the team who hadn't yet made a basket. Score one foot-in-mouth for this mother.

However, the kids had, apparently, created a system at the beginning of the year whereby they wanted to ensure that every kid on the team got at least one basket during a game. They made sure to pass to the kids that hadn't yet made baskets to try to help them to do so.

I assumed that the coach was involved in this idea. But it turned out that he wasn't - this was something that the kids, as a team, had taken on entirely by themselves.

During the last game, the child who hadn't gotten a basket all year finally got one. The kids exploded with cheers, high-fives and excitement as if they had just won the lottery. And the scorer beamed from ear to ear.

Yehuda may not remember the dribbling techniques that the coach teaches him. He probably won't end up on an athletic scholarship anywhere as a result of this team.

He will, however, remember how to show dignity to others who are struggling.

And he will remember how to be a team member, and how helping another to rise up really helps us all to do so.

No comments:

Post a Comment