February 23, 2015

Life's Scoreboard

We had a sporty weekend during the last holiday weekend.  Four hockey games and two basketball games in three days kept us on our toes.  This is the stage of life we are in and I'm loving it.  I have sports on the brain so all I can come up with today are sports analogies.  I know that these are probably nothing new and way overdone, but they are what spoke to me when I was mulling over our game heavy schedule.

On that Saturday morning, we got to witness Jack's very first basketball game.  In the past he has been in camps to work on skills, but he's never been on a competitive basketball team before.  The night prior he set out his uniform, shoes and basketball so everything was ready to go.  I could tell he was really excited but also extremely nervous.  Sometimes his nervousness and self consciousness sabotages his efforts so I was anxious for him.  When he's comfortable and laid back, he just does his thing and it's so fun to watch.

No amount of pep talks could ease his nerves so we knew we just had to get him out onto the court and let him work it out on his own.  I was so proud of how confident he appeared even though I'm sure his heart was racing.  He didn't let the anxiousness stop him from playing.  I know a lot of adults who have a hard time overcoming that so I already considered this game a win the moment his bright, blue Nikes stepped in bounds.

Once the game got going he calmed down.  When his little butt was off the bench he ended up getting the ball about 50 percent of the time.  When he didn't have the ball he was racing around getting open for a pass.  He just knew what to do and where to be and he gave it his all.

Every time he touched the basketball, he paused for a second to gather up where his team was and which opponents he had to get through.  Then he would aggressively plow through and drive up the lane to shoot the ball.  I was so impressed that he used all the skills he had been practicing at home, he took all possible shots and when those shots were not available, he found a teammate to pass to.

I don't pretend to know much about basketball; I'm still learning the rules and techniques.  Put me on a basketball court and it would end up being more of a comedy routine rather than a competitive game.  I consider myself to be fairly athletic but the game of basketball confuses my brain and body.  Since I'm a basketball newbie, I was in awe of how quickly Jack picked up this game.  It's turning out to be his "thing," at least for now and for as long as he wants to keep at it.

More than half way through the game, I looked over to Luke.  He was watching Jack and almost crying.  I asked him what was up.  "I just feel so bad for Jack.  He keeps shooting and none of them go in."

I looked down at Jack and he also looked defeated.  While I was in awe of all his fundamentals, he was focusing on how little he was contributing to the overall score.  After the game, he was teary because he hadn't scored.  Tim and I listed off all the amazing skills he displayed and even his coach came up to him to tell him how impressed he was.  That seemed to cheer him up a little, but he was still disappointed.

I totally get it.  Winning is more fun than losing and you want to help out the team.  Losing is devastating and making those shots is evidence of how hard you have been practicing.  But the cliche is true, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.  Sooner or later, the more you throw that ball up, it will go in the basket.  It just sucks when you have a game full of missed shots.

Isn't that kind of like life?  It devastates us when we miss shot after shot.  Sometimes we get so disappointed that we stop even trying.  It just gets too hard to throw that heavy ball up anymore.  And the more we miss, the heavier the ball feels.  If just like basketball is Jack's thing, isn't life our thing?  We are all here, plodding along on this earth.  We all want life to be our expertise, but some of us have stopped even taking shots.  We aren't even putting ourselves in position to make the shots, let alone practicing to hone our life skills.

Sometimes, I think we have to continue making those agressive drives up the lane, even when we don't feel like it.  LIfe sometimes puts barriers and opponents that have to be pushed through.  It's hard bumping into others who are putting their hands up trying to block you from making a clear shot.  It's not our job to foul them everytime, but we have to get by somehow.  Gently or aggressively, we'll know when we see the opponent.

And we have to remember that the success isn't always if the score changes.  The success is pushing through life and putting yourself in a place to try and try again.  There may be hands in your face, elbows thrown into your side but launch that ball up anyway.  If that isn't success, I don't know what is.  Some days that ball will sink nicely into the net and you will see the reflection on the scoreboard of life, but not always.  For now, push through, throw something into the air and know that you've played well.  That deserves a W in my scorebook.

Luke was also a hockey maniac that weekend.  His last game of the tournament was probably the best we've ever seen him play on any team in any sport.  He ended up playing a position he doesn't normally occupy.  We knew this before the game started so as I chauffered the athletes to the arena, Tim sat in the back with Luke and went over strategies.  Luke said he was open to input and advice so they got a notebook out and planned out possible situations.  Now, keep in mind, Luke normally doesn't like input from us so Tim made sure he got the okay beforehand. He knew that if that didn't occur, he would be advising to deaf ears.

It was a good thing that Tim showed him some positioning and skill strategy because he ended up being paired up with the best kid on the other team.  This kid was a great skater and he was super aggressive.  He knew his stuff - a little too well - because he was nasty at times.  The kid scored all three of the goals the other team made but he also earned all three of the penalties.

Checking is not allowed at their level and Luke got some nasty elbows to the face and he got slammed into the boards multiple times.  This didn't seem to phase Luke and actually kind of spurred him on.  He ended up playing harder and better and he even got to shoot a penalty shot at the opposing goalie because that kid was so nasty.  I was so surprised how fast he would get up after being checked.  The low-blow playing kid was motivating him to play harder.  Luke never scored a goal that game but he played the best we have ever seen, ever.

He didn't let a little adversity get in his way.  He actually used it to his advantage.  I was so proud of how he never stooped to the kid's level of play - he just played harder and in a more stand-up, noble way.  It takes more heart to play that way and I was taking lessons from him that game.  In the past, Luke has scored multiple goals in a game but he didn't play as well as he did on that Sunday.  Again, just like with Jack, the scoreboard didn't reflect the play and effort and heart that went into the game.

On that sporty Valentine's weekend I learned a great deal by watching my kids play.  I realized it's not worth it to keep staring at life's scoreboard.  It's not worth it to be preoccupied with the world's definition of winning - that will just sabotage my efforts.

Let's change our definition of winning.  Let's drive agressively through life and throw up shots.  Let's skate back into the game, even after we get slammed unfairly into the boards.  Let's win the way we want to win and let's do it together.

Who's with me?

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