|You can't do this standing at the back . . .|
In Milk River, in Southern Alberta, Basketball was the reigning sport.
All of the 'cool' people played basketball.
My family tried hard to be 'cool'.
Well, at least we all tried out for our respective basketball teams.
'Mixing in' during the practice/game was never a problem.
We were used to wrestling with furry creatures that outweighed us by hundreds of pounds.
Fighting for possession of a ball (with an opponent who didn't outweigh us at all) was child's play.
We could nip in, latch onto the ball, and nip out again, before anyone even knew we were there.
But the important point was that we nipped.
Moving ahead . . .
Having been raised with the idea that all children needed to play some sort of organized sport, I enrolled our two oldest boys in community basketball.
At that point, our family was living in the city.
Children raised in the city are different than those raised on a ranch.
Or at least mine were.
They were polite.
And perfectly willing to stand back quietly let everyone else go first.
They would even pause and say, “excuse me”, if they happened to bump into someone.
All good qualities.
Except when playing basketball.
'Polite' players don't often get their hands on the ball.
Players who stand back and allow everyone else to go first end up . . . somewhere near the back.
The action passes them by.
For the first few games, I watched as my tall boys stood back and let the play go on ahead of them.
When I talked to them about 'getting in there', they stared at me, horrified.
“Mom, we can't do that! That would be rude!”
Now I had a new dilemma.
How to teach them that sometimes, being a little bit pushy was not only allowed, but required.
I decided to go with bribery.
For every foul they collected in basketball, I would pay them a dollar.
Okay, yes, I know how this sounds.
Hear me out.
It got them in there.
Fighting for possession of the ball.
Actually touching the other players.
Trying to get there ahead of everyone else.
It made basketball players out of them.
I should point out that after a few weeks of this, I had to withdraw my offer.
They were getting a bit too aggressive.
But they had learned.
Moving ahead again . . .
My oldest grandson is in his first season of playing soccer.
He has been taught manners.
To be polite and never rude.
His father despaired of getting him into the action.
I reminded him of his early days playing basketball.
And my unorthodox solution.
He and his son went off to the game.
A short time later, they were back.
“How did you do?” I asked.
“Oh, he was great!” my son said. “He almost made a goal! He got an assist!”
“Wow! What made the difference?”
“I offered to buy him a new Lego video game if he scored.”
And another generation benefits from a little bribery.
It's a good world.