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Tales from the Dad Side – The Sideline Coach

Tales from the Dad Side is a concept I’ve had in my mind for awhile now. The basic premise being that from time to time I’ll share a story (a “tale” if you will) about something my kids have done, something I’ve done or learned as a parent, or my random thoughts on parenthood in general. When these thoughts will show up on this site depends on how often they show up in my head. It could be once a week, twice a week, monthly, bi-monthly, who knows. When they do happen I’ll be sure to share them on our Facebook page so you’ll know another delicious nugget of humor is available for your consumption. Onward we go…

(Courtesy - flickr, ryan_fung)

My son started his second year of basketball a few weeks ago. Of all the sports he’s played so far (baseball, football, and basketball), he seems to enjoy basketball the most. I think the main reason is the fact it’s played indoors and not outside in the summer heat like most of baseball season and a good chunk of football season. We all have our reasons I suppose.

If there’s any sport he’s built for, it would be basketball. Genetics are on his side when it comes to height as I stand 6’3″ and my wife is 5’10″. At 7 years old, he currently stands at 4’6″ and is the tallest kid on his team this year. Even with height on his side, he’s not particularly good, but that’s OK, he’s learning and having fun which is the main thing. I’ll take partial blame as we don’t really practice outside of his once a week scheduled team practice. I’ll put the rest of the blame on him since when I do offer to take him outside and help, he usually shoots down the idea. I get it, he’s 7 and sometimes the allure of the Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, or Nintendo DS is just to great. Heck, I’m 35 and still have a hard time not being swayed by a video game’s siren song. With that being said, his game has improved this season from last. His dribbling is a bit better and he’s a better shooter this year.

This year however, I’ve noticed an increasingly disturbing trend. Not in the way he plays, but in the way I react to how he plays. Over the last few weeks, I find myself getting louder and louder in my attempt to coach him from my seat on the sidelines. I’m not yelling at him or mad at him for the way he plays, actually the opposite is true. In my head I’m reminding him of all the things he needs to be doing while on the court. Put your hands up when the other team is trying to shoot, work to get open when a teammate is looking to get him the ball, find your man, all things that must be thought of while playing the game.

The church gym his league takes place in is limited in the amount of spectator seating it provides. Folding chairs circle the court meaning that I’m literally 5 feet away from the action giving my “direction” a front row seat. It finally sunk in last week during his game that I’ve become “that parent”. The dad who unintentionally leaves his kid torn between who to listen to, his coach, or the guy who helped bring him into this world.

Like most dads, my intentions are good. I want him to learn the right way to play the game and maybe, just maybe I’m living vicariously through him. I’ve always enjoyed sports, playing baseball, basketball, and football while growing up, but my sporting career pretty well ended after I graduated 8th grade. I tried out for the the basketball team my freshman at Mater Dei, but realized that my drive to play had left and wound up being the equipment manager that season instead to the tune of a cool $100 after the season was over. It seemed like a lot of money at the time, but looking back, I was basically paid about $8 a week over the course of a 12 week season. Now that I think about it even more, aren’t there laws against that?

Anywho, as difficult as it may be for me, I’m going to make a concentrated effort to keep my mouth shut during this week’s game and save my “friendly reminders” for the post-game ride home.

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