Friday, October 30, 2009

In Search of Game

My little people are far more athletic than I have ever been. I love that about them. They are not moved by the fact that every tae kwon do, gymnastics, volleyball, swimming or sports experience is filled with many lessons we can't quite relate to. But, I've got one son who loves basketball. I mean, he practices outside in shooting hoops in my neighbors rim, for as long as you will allow. It isn't our natural thing.

We are amazing at teaching story problems, fractions, vocabulary words, writing prompts - and he's got the grades to prove it. After a long and drawn out teasing his straight A grade card was neither that exciting or that hot of a topic - he just does what he does without much fanfare. I attended one of his few basketball games last week and that experience was not the same. I tell you, check out moms action stop. Do you see that form. Concentration. Focus. And do you see that it looks like he's running a sprint and not playing ball. How much of having game is nature? How much is nurture?

Our kids have inherited a tendency to do better at solo activities while they struggle with team experiences. This child, however, tends to do well at both. In the heart of Indiana where basketball is beloved by all, I can't help wish that my father was more invested in teaching and training. My father was the coach of all coaches when it came to basketball. He taught inner city hoops with flare and substance, did much better than he did in parenting. There are students that still credit him for their growth and development. No comment there. Just wondering though, can you teach a Suburban Black kid with little basketball instinct to play ball.

At a dinner party recently I had friends suggest to us, "you need to enroll him in Black Ball." Really. I don't care if its politically incorrect, they cautioned me about the "recreational league" that I enrolled him in. I indicated it was just about the basics, no stress, no future Lebron aspirations. And they uniformly responded, you better get him in Black Ball soon.

At the ripe old age of 7 I'm starting to sense he's behind the curve. I laughed on Sunday because I was sure he was close to a foul everytime he tried to snatch the ball from his opponent. When I looked at the pics that make a moms heart smile, I couldn't help but land on this one. I started thinking, what are we running to and what are we running from. We're happy to be in the Suburbs, but I miss some of the things the kids would naturally learn from the neighborhood I grew up in. Down the street he could have learned to play ball nearly free of charge, extra bandaids and some non-Walmart tennis shoes, and he'd be set. It wouldn't have been a big deal that he didn't have his own basketball court - few kids did. The only guy that I knew with his own court, couldn't play and tried harder to makeout near the swings than shoot hoops. I digress.

In search of game really speaks to the double lives children of color lead. I'm not even going to write about the Suburban clubs that spend more time eliminating potential young ladies than creating a place to nurture them and expose them to peers who share their experiences. I'm not quite over it, but I'm getting there. Living in the suburbs has brought better schools, better property values and more diverse issues. I need a second job to teach my boys how to have game, while I'm teaching them to navigate this game that we chose.

Watch out world. The best scientist that can ball is coming your way soon. He's not in search of much but his personal success, and he's well on his way.

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