Watching Two Generations Play

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Watching Two Generations Play

Post  Dan Ellsworth on Thu Jun 11 2009, 18:49

David fairly warned us that it would be like watching paint dry, but Judy was interested, and I felt obligated, or maybe a little bit the other way around. This June and July, we were going to try to get to some games of three of David and Michelle's children -- Kaela, 11; Mason, 8; and Andrew, 6.

Andrew's game was T-ball, a variant of baseball in which the batter hits a ball placed atop a tee adjusted to about waist height. After the ball is hit, the game is something like baseball, with about thirteen major exceptions suitable to the ages of the players.

One difference is that the outfielders don't play much farther back than the infielders; sometimes it is hard to tell which is which.

I had never seen a T-ball game, so at age 65, it seemed about time to correct that deficiency in my education. On June 9, 2009, in the village of Dimondale, we carried our lightweight folding chairs to somewhere behind first base of the field marked "Dimondale East", assured by those who knew that we were in no danger from overthrows. That was true; no throws were that strong.

Since our sons were just starting in organized sports, I had been hesitant to make watching them a way of life, and this was something of a value difference with my wife Judy. Sure, if I was needed for the transportation, I might as well stay and watch, but my thought was this: Son, if you want to play to play, then play. If you want to play to be watched, I'm not that interested. That might sound cold, but I thought it spoke to what a sport should be -- something to do, not something to be seen doing.

For myself, if a top-level professional sports contest was on television, and a chance to play volleyball or softball at my own primitive level was available, I'd rather play than watch. As for what this meant to our sons, my idea was that I should have a life and show them that, not derive my life from watching theirs. So, it was a deep philosophical position.

Besides, watching was not as fun for me as it seemed to be for Judy. There -- I said it, and I'm glad.

By the time the boys were through high school, I had tallied maybe hundreds of times watching my sons in organized sports, but with one clear exception, I didn't feel bad about letting them participate without me.

What was that one exception, you might ask? (You might not ask, but I'm covering the bases here -- so to speak.) In my oldest son David's senior year, in late 1989, his soccer team had a district championship game. I was in a group called Michigan Church Computer Users Network (MiCCUN), which had their annual meeting on the same day, about 80 miles away. I was an officer, and attended. That is one decision I would like to have back. David's team, Eaton Rapids High School, lost by one goal to Mason, the eventual state champion. This was one of the best performances in Eaton Rapids soccer, David was in it, and I missed it.

Meanwhile, back at the curmudgeon's ranch, I tried to go to enough children's and grandchildren's games not to scandalize Judy completely, and whenever I went, I tried to make the most of it, finding something interesting and observing the development of whoever was playing.

That was the background of my attendance at Andrew's T-ball game on June 9.

This time, watching took on a whole new facet for me. David (Andrew's father; our son) was helping coach. For this age level, coaches on the defensive team could be right out on the playing field, guiding the kids as well as they could without being in the way or overdoing it.

David had a good way with the kids -- friendly, positive, showing what he meant by doing the moves himself, and encouraging. For some time, I had thought of him as part boy, part man. I realized it was more complex than that, because that evening, David was part boy and ALL man, responsible but boyishly approachable. I think I commented, "David's having a good game."

Andrew's ability fit right in with his age group, and it was good to see his physical and social development, but that's the kind of thing that was always true of these spectator outings.

The new thing, for me, was watching TWO generations of our descendants taking part in a sporting event, seeing their development and enjoyment, with the quiet background enjoyment that these people came from us, and were happy and competent. Good game, Andrew. Good game, David. I love you both.

Dan Ellsworth
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