Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Basketball Diaries : Chapter Seven.

[Editor's Note: This blog has an ulterior motive and that motive is The AverageBro Challenge™. Watch me walk the talk firsthand as I coach a team of 6th graders this Winter in our newest series, The Basketball Diaries. If you need a refresher, backtrack and read prior chapters.]

Sunday (Postgame)

There comes a time in every man's life, when he has to stop dwelling in a world of starry idealism and face reality. I've come to accept the fact that I'll never play in an actual NBA game. I'll never see Michael Jackson live in concert. I'll never... ahem... "hook up" with Halle Berry. And unfortunately, the basketball team I'm coaching this year will never be good.

These are the rules. Live with em'.

I came to this realization today as I watched my young Panthers get walloped, 31-9, in a game that was even worse than its final score indicates. After over 20 practices and 14 games, it is finally sinking in that this particular set of kids simply can't play the game. Period. Today we hit rock bottom, or at least what I fear to be rock bottom. We can't possibly go any lower. I pray not.

We've spent 5 weeks practicing our offense. The kids have yet to execute it properly in a game. Not a single time. Turnovers piled up. Uncontested layups set the scoreboard on fire. We couldn't hit the broadside of a barn on offense. We couldn't rebound with an eHarmony.com account.

I found myself in Stuart Smalley mode after the game. I'm 35 years old. I understand the game. I know how to coach it. I've been successful before. Losing doesn't make me a loser. But it's becoming patently obvious that despite my best intentions, if you have kids who don't listen, aren't disciplined, have no level of talent, no pride, and don't know how to play the game despite hours of instruction, you simply aren't going to win.

I'd be kidding you guys if I said this wasn't souring me on coaching and working with kids in the future, period. Losing takes a toll on you. You think about the sacrifices made, the weekends blown, the time spent away from your own family, and it all feels like a colossal waste of time and energy.

Some of you are probably saying, "But AB, this isn't all about winning, it's about working with the kids!" That would be true, and on that issue, I also have to deem this experiment a failure of sorts. The kids haven't shown any greater level of preparation or professionalism. They still show up 3 mins before the game and mosey into the gym. They haven't shown any greater understanding of the game. If they did, common mistakes wouldn't be repeated so often. They haven't shown any greater respect for authority. We still spend an inordinate amount of time each practice making the kids run because they're not focused on drills and instruction. So, in the end, I'm wondering exactly what good has come of this.

For anyone else considering working with kids in any capacity, consider this a case study. You'll seldom see the fruits of your labor immediately. Sometimes the whole thing will feel like a colossal waste of time. You'll prolly never be told thank you.

But do it anyway.

Season Record: 0 Wins and 6 Losses

Next Opponent: The Rockets

Question: Is it time to throw in the towel? Can the Panthers win either of the two remaining games or is this season a wash?

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