My favorite Garrison Keillor quote goes like this:
“I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.”
That’s what today’s guest post writer does on his blog, The Next Delusion. One half of them, anyway. Momus is one half of the dynamic duo who writes the blog with the tagline “seeing reality and looking the other way.”
Momus teams with wife Cassandra as dreamers, parents and data analysts trying to face middle age with a little creativity and humor. They’re regular commenters and six-words post contributors.
They bring it all to the mix, including ex-spouses, kids sports and monotonous jobs. Check out their Throwdown Thursday noise, in which they pit genders in a grudge match of life. You’ll be surprised who you find yourself rooting for at times.
Today, Momus reveals the thoughts of a good dad’s/coaches’ inner Bobby Knight. It’s a raw, politically incorrect dialog you might identify with. Please give Momus a warm CD welcome, and be sure to check out The Next Delusion, next.
Inner Demons Meet Youth Sports
A couple of weeks ago I attended the final game of the season for my older daughter’s soccer team. They had not won a game in two years and were locked in a 1-1 tie with seconds left in the game. A tie would be as good as a win to this team, and all of the parents were set with words of praise and celebration.
My daughter was in goal and had played brilliantly. I was completely anxious, pacing the sidelines and praying that nothing unfortunate would happen. But now, the formality of the corner kick (the other team had not had a decent corner kick all game) was in order, and I could exhale.
Then it happened: the evil opponent lofted the ball longer and straighter than anything I had seen all year, and it headed right toward their tallest player. In the blink of an eye she headed it into the net. A perfect play, a spectacular, professional looking play. Nothing a defender could do. Nothing my daughter could do. Whistle blew, game over, the losing streak continued.
While I wish this game was an anomaly, it has sadly been the norm for both of my daughters’ soccer and basketball teams for several years. And while it’s not about the winning, at least that’s my nightly meditation, you would like to see your kids have a few more success experiences. I have also coached many of these teams, increasing the ego investment exponentially.
Throughout these years of struggle I have maintained the external Good Coach/Good Parent persona without fail. I have offered nothing but supportive encouraging feedback and when coaching, constructive feedback to correct errors and focus on the positive.
But there is another being seething silently below the surface, my inner Bobby Knight: a hypercompetitive demon throwback to my younger days when I thought that the outcome of competitive endeavors had some great meaning in the world. This entity does not have perspective and believes empathy is for the weak. He also doesn’t understand what the J.K Simmons character did so wrong in Whiplash.
Here’s a bit of the play-by-play between Coach Unconditional Positive Regard (the outside voice) and Mr. What’s Wrong with You! (the inner volcano) while coaching last year.
Scenario I: Soccer Ball is rolling out of bounds and player slows down to a jog, watching it leave the field.
Coach Unconditional Positive Regard (Coach UPR): “That’s OK Sarah, good effort. If you think you can save it, go right ahead.”
Mr. What’s Wrong with You! (Mr. WWY!): “Sarah, did you have a seizure, or a spontaneous concussion perhaps? What could cause your 11-year-old body to slow down like that?! Wait until age strips you of your vitality like it has me, then you can slow down.”
Scenario II: Player grabs a rebound in basketball, and quickly throws a pass…to no one in particular, unless she meant to give it to her mother in the fifth row of the bleachers.
Coach UPR: “Great rebound Serena. Just try to spot your teammate before throwing the pass. But, again, great position on that rebound.”
Mr. WWY!: “Serena, did you have an hallucination there? Is a medication adjustment in order? Have we not gone over the ‘when passing the ball, try to pass it to a teammate’ fundamental-to-every-team-sport thing enough?”
Scenario III: On a corner kick, three players are chatting near the goal, ‘covering’ one opponent while two other opponents remain completely undefended. One of the undefended players scores.
Coach UPR: “No problem girls, we’ll get that one back. Let’s try to call out our assignments and spot the open players.”
Mr. WWY!: “Ah, we’re losing this one now. We haven’t scored a goal since the early 1940s. I hope whatever the Algonquin Round Table was discussing out there was worth blowing the game and my heavily managed blood pressure. Maybe it was a potential cure for pancreatic cancer, but I’m thinking more likely an intricate assessment of the causes of Zayn leaving One Direction.”
Scenario IV: Julia gets the basketball, takes 2 steps before dribbling (the kindly referee ignores the traveling violation) dribbles 5 times, stops dribbling, looks around to pass and seeing no one open, begins to dribble again. The referee is forced to call the double dribble. Julia looks up laughing and gives her now famous “silly me” shoulder shrug.
Coach UPR: “Good patience Julia. That’s it, brush it off, you’ll get it going next time down the court.”
Mr. WWY!: “Julia, you’ve been playing basketball for 7 years, yet every aspect of the game seems to have eluded you. Perhaps it’s time for theatre, poetry club, or some other extracurricular. I can’t watch this any longer without developing a prescription drug habit, and I am way too cheap to pay for rehab. So save us both, and move on.”
Luckily, none of Mr. WWY’s musings have gotten past my frontal lobe and I continue to hear “you are just so good and patient with the kids” from parents. My daughters will soon be out of the dad coaching years, and I’m sure I’ll miss it eventually. But right now I’m contemplating witness relocation before the annual request to coach next year gets to my inbox. Changing identities and living in a shack on Wyoming has to be easier than this.
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Momus has two daughters (ages 15 and 11). He both embraces (coaching his daughters’ teams) and is repelled by (eating at Not Your Average Joe’s because that is one of few options in town) suburban life. His favorite fruits are grapes and oranges. The rest of his life is not as interesting as his fruit choices. He blogs with his partner in crime, Cassandra, at The Next Delusion.
I definitely couldn’t agree more and know with both my girls, good or bad, I always try my best to see all the good and positive in a situation no matter what.
Youth sports teaches parents as much as it teaches kids, doesn’t it Janine?
great piece, and i so understand this. my bf coaches girls, college softball, and give lessons and coaches them from age 10 on up. we have these talks daily )
you can take the coach off the field, but you can’t take the field off the coach. wait, that didn’t sound right. You know what i mean.
I found myself giggling a lot by reading this…was that the goal? The Giggling?
I also love the redesign Eli. NICE!
Thanks Kir – I just needed a new banner, and threw that one together on Canva.
The giggling is at least a positive by-product, Kir.
I am truly impressed with any parent who is able to show such restraint! And I’m very grateful to the parents who get suckered in.. oh I mean who volunteer… to coach kids’ teams. 🙂
“Sure, I’ll volunteer …” words I said 12 years ago, and my life changed forever, Karen!
Yeah, it was about 10 years ago for me. Not sure if I knew what I was getting into! All in all it has been a lot of fun and the kids have been great, and I’ve had to up my game in patience and keep perspective.
It’s constant exercise for your patience, brother. And it helps you on everything from waiting at the DMV to learning not to beat the pancake batter too much.
Being the mature, responsible coach can be hard. Especially when the other team’s coach is a jerk. Thankfully, we’ve been lucky to have mostly the good kind so far.
The good kind is out there, Rabia – we need to breed them in captivity to maintain the species, perhaps.
Hilarious. My favorite line: “Wait until age strips you of your vitality like it has me, then you can slow down.” I’ll be wading into these waters soon with Zoe. Or, I guess the husband will. Though he refuses to consider soccer as a sport. I just want her to run around and expend some energy.
Coach one season of soccer – no, one week – and that opinion on the beautiful game ought to dry up.
Thanks for stopping by, E.R.!
This is why I could never be a father, I don’t think I posess that filter. My children would hate me in under a year.
You’re doing a sterling job Momus =)
I’d like to be on the sideline by you for that year, though, Jamie. Just to see.
Thanks for reading this everyone. Coaching my kids sports teams has been such a core part of my life these last 10 years and influenced me in a lot of ways (mostly good!). I recommend it to everyone who has the faintest interest. Just keep it in perspective and the comments you want to say in your head, and all will be well.
Perspective is everything, mate. Thanks for the visit!