As I type this column, the temperature the next two days (days that are occurring during the calendar month of February) is going to be above eighty degrees. That’s right, February is going to …
As I type this column, the temperature the next two days (days that are occurring during the calendar month of February) is going to be above eighty degrees. That’s right, February is going to have multiple days best described as “muggy.” Record high temperatures and high winds. Happy migraines to all, and to all a good sinus headache! If this is what living in Florida is like - allergy overload, snakes always out, getting mosquito bites year-round - I’m starting to think I might prefer retiring in Green Bay instead of Tampa Bay.
That’s a joke. At the rate I’m going, I’ll never be able to retire.
There is one thing normal about this February here in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, volunteer youth league basketball referees are getting cussed out in gyms across the north end to the south. We are approaching youth league basketball championship Saturday. A local youth league basketball tournament occurs on a Saturday where parents wake up early and pray, “Lord, may Junior’s team win their tournament today. And if they don’t, please let them lose the first two games so we can get back home early and not waste a whole stinkin’ Saturday. I’ve got a bunch of The Last of Us shows on my DVR.”
Youth league is the last level of basketball where at halftime you see players ask their parents to get them a Dr. Pepper from the concession stand. I have seen youth basketball coaches have to get on to players on the bench for eating nachos. Youth basketball parents go into the season with two goals in mind: for the kid to learn the fundamentals, and get at least through spring semester in those basketball shoes the parents spent seventy dollars on. I heard the best comparison for six-year-olds-and-under basketball games is that second after you turn on the light to a room where the floor is covered in roaches - just little bodies wiggling everywhere in no discernable pattern. They all look the same and are probably covered in germs. But no matter how low your youth basketball expectations are (and if you have set through many six and under basketball games you already have some awfully low expectations), nothing brings voices ringing together in unison, singing out “rebound” or “hustle,” quite like youth league basketball.
It’s hard to imagine a six-year-old who knows what the words “hustle” or “dig deep” even mean. Kids haven’t had to know what “hustle” and “dig deep” meant since back in the day when children had to work in the mines. It may not be politically correct to joke about child labor, but there wasn’t a lot of time for TikTok dancing when eight year-olds were coal mining. I think all that “encouraging” parents and grandparents do from the bleachers is just traumatizing these child basketball players because, for the first time since Christmas, their whole family has gotten together and they’re just hardcore yelling nonsense at these kids. The kid has to be thinking, “I’m playing this winter sport where I wear shorts and a tank top, which is just weird to start off. And for four loud buzzes from the scoreboard that is way too loud, I run from one end of the court to the other chasing a ball while my adult loved ones scream at me.”
I am sure, until they are about nine, kids are amazed that society lets this verbal abuse take place in a gym on school grounds. I bet they are wondering why youth basketball is allowed within 500 feet of a school.
Enjoy Junior’s basketball tournament, y’all. Don’t forget to go ahead and order his seventy-dollar baseball cleats.
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