It is that time of the year again when my nine year old son is starting basketball season. Like his dad, some would say under the undue influence of his dad, my oldest son loves basketball and competing with teammates. He is a pretty good player for his age but he seems to enjoy the camaraderie of his teammates more than anything else. We’ve taken part in a winter basketball league for the last three years and now it is time to gear up for his fourth season as practices start this month. We have always had some problems with basketball leagues he has been in, early on when he was younger he was usually one of the few kids who could actually dribble and he got upset when the referees wouldn’t call traveling violations or double dribble on other kids. Not surprisingly, those games between six and seven year olds took on the quality of a rugby match more than a basketball game and that also frustrated my son and I. Last year he was on a team with some talent but a total lack of coaching and they ran around like maniacs and left Aurelio and I frustrated at the way they were losing games without any game plan at all. As he is getting older now the teams are getting better and I was hoping to get Aurelio on a decent team this year that at least had a chance to compete in games. Aurelio has been practicing with a group of good players lately and I had him all set with a team of these kids. My only worry was that Aurelio might not ever be featured or even get that much playing time because these were all kids who could play and most of them are older than he is. I was mentally preparing him for that and although my wife didn’t like it, Aurelio seemed all right with sharing time if it meant getting a chance to be on a competitive team. Unfortunately it turns out the team Aurelio was on had too many players so Aurelio was assigned to another team which we know absolutely nothing about. Last year he was also assigned to one of these teams and it turned out to be pretty agonizing to watch as other more well prepared teams creamed them game after game. By the end of the season they had a few wins and Aurelio was happy with the way it had gone, but I was dissatisfied to the point of deciding I’d rather him not be on a team at all than be on another team like that again. I am not sure if I made that decision for me or for my son and now that the same scenario is playing out again I am trying to think about things objectively. After some discussion with my dearest wife we decided I should check it out and see what I think about the team he has been assigned to before jumping ship. The only problem is that these free agent teams are usually short of players so they are going to want to hold onto him and also Aurelio is usually one of the best kids so coaches want to hang onto him because he can dribble and look up at the same time. Realizing all of this I am worried I will feel guilty and keep Aurelio on the team no matter what its prospects.
There is also a team out there that a friend of mine coaches that is super competitive. They have some of the top kids in the state on the team, supposedly, although I’m not sure how sound the process is for rating ten year olds and it sounds pretty ridiculous, but that is another option. They usually practice three times a week and I’m not sure how much playing time Aurelio would see, but it would be good for him to be challenged and get a feel for how good he really is and how much he likes the game. Also, not for nothing, it would give him a chance to play with some kids from other types of backgrounds as that team is pretty much an all black team. That, in and of itself, interests me but I am not sure I want to go to that level of commitment and competition as that will definitely freak out Aurelio’s mother, although she will probably like the fact of him playing with other kids of color.
Ah, decisions, decisions… no wonder Lebron James had such a hard time deciding how to change teams, I can barely deal with it for my nine year old!