John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

On fourth-grade basketball

I didn't take part in any sort of organized sports when I was a kid. Nor unorganized ones, for that matter, aside from the occasional game of Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids. (And Radium Ball.) I enjoyed archery, but I could only do that during my one or two weeks at Camp Freeland Leslie each summer.

My nephew, on the other hand, is mad for sports. His favorites are football and soccer (indoor and outdoor), but he also plays baseball and basketball. I think he'd play pretty much any team sport if enough of his friends were taking part. Maybe not water polo — he doesn't really like being in the water — but I wouldn't rule it out.

This past weekend, his basketball team played in their end-of-the-season tournament, and I got to see two of the four games his team played that day. I will say this about fourth-grade basketball: most of the players have lousy form, and many of them lack focus, but there were no small number of talented kids on the court and the games tended to be pretty fun to watch.

I don't know how fun it was for the kids, though, especially by the time their last game rolled around. My nephew's first game started at 8:00 AM; the last ended around 6:00 PM. And his team was one of the lucky ones; they were only 15 minutes from home, so it wasn't hard for them to go home between games if they wanted to. But I saw some teams there that day from towns more than a half-hour away, and I imagine that most of them had little choice but to hang around between games, and my impression is that neither the arena nor the town it's in are entertainment paradises for kids that age.

And you could tell it was taking a toll on the players. Some of my nephew's teammates were visibly having trouble holding it together by the end of the fourth game (it didn't help that they were behind), and the quality of play was noticeably diminished, both offensively and defensively. My nephew didn't even play in that game — he rolled his ankle in the third game — and he was still exhausted and grumpy by the time we left the arena. It's a strong argument in favor of single-elimination tournaments, in my opinion, though when you've got teams coming from 30 miles away, I suppose it makes sense to guarantee a certain number of games. Still, it doesn't really seem that beneficial for the kids.
Tags: family, sports: basketball

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