Flattland - "Your Children and Sports"

.NET's intrepid Trav Flatt takes a cracked view of youth athletics. Included: More Flatt-related injuries, and the introduction of "goat heads"!

Now I am not unaware that a good portion of my reading demographic (Roughly 60 percent, an estimated three persons) consists of the Average Sports Guy. This would be a twenty-something single person who would far rather research, for example, porn, than tax his highly adapted aquatic beer-dwelling brain cells with a detailed article regarding the salary cap (A recent poll by our resident Salary Cap Guru places the ‘Would Rather Read Porn’ demographic at 25%, so I am dead wrong).

These persons are not likely interested in ‘Family’ topics, but I would like to take this opportunity to show them the other side. I endeavor to bring to them some anecdotal advice on Domestic Bliss. I long to SHARE with them that warm feeling a proud father gets whilst fondly GAZING at his family persons seated around the dinner table as the children PUNCH and/or hurl food items at one another and his slightly hormonal WIFE is looking at him as if to say, “If you even DARE to not like ANYTHING about this dinner I am going to insert this FOOT into your NETHER orifice, and I don’t even CARE that the CAT just happened to BARF on the rice-a-RONI”, and, touched, that father contemplates jabbing his FORK into his eyeball.

No! I mean to say, “Domestic Bliss” is not an oxymoron (Except in the sense that it involves two persons resembling, respectively, an “Ox” and a “Moron”. Har! Sorry!) This is demonstrated in the highly engaging topic of:

Your Children and Sports

(For those of you keeping track, i.e. “Doug”, I do realize that this week was technically supposed to be covering ‘Strange and/or Stupid Sports’, in which I was going to have the opportunity to discuss “Ferret Racing”. However, an attention-span difficulty has sapped my ability to find said topic interesting. Thusly, that particular topic has been shelved until next week, or possibly “never”.)

Now, as an attentive Father Figure to somewhere between two and five children, I can sincerely say that I am in severe need of a nap. Also, I can sincerely say that exposing your offspring to the good-natured environment of Competitive Sports is a good thing. Aside from teaching children the values of Teamwork and Good Sportsmanship, it also tends to tire the little cretins out so that you can get them into bed without the assistance of tranquilizer darts.

Recently, one of our local radio sports talk people pointed out that Albuquerque is the “Youth Soccer Capitol” of the United States. I have to agree that it’s a very common young person sport around here, though I couldn’t begin to tell you why. As far as I’ve been able to tell, Soccer is almost as dull to watch as, say, golf. I realize that it is an insanely popular sport from a global perspective, though, so it might not be a bad idea to get your young person involved in this multicultural (though dull) sport.

I personally played one entire season of Youth Summer Soccer when I was around eleven or so. I only have one significant memory of that particular time, though it does illustrate the importance of Proper Coaching:

The coach of our team (I don’t remember what the name of the team was, though I do recall our “uniforms” consisted of a red T-shirt with a white soccer ball on it.) informed me that I was going to be The Goalie. The only thing I really understood about this particular position was that the goalie COULD use his hands. The sole coaching tip I received from the coach was, “Just get out there. Be aggressive!”

So I ambled out onto the field, ready to be aggressive, and not knowing what the hell else I was supposed to be doing. Now, the pacing in youth sports can occasionally be a touch lethargic as kids run about randomly kicking the ball in whichever direction they happen to be pointing when the ball reaches them. Due to this, my job seemed to consist of FAR too much time standing around near the goal, building up aggression. By the time a child had accidentally come into my designated goalie area, my tiny kid brain had become overwhelmed with aggression molecules. Not knowing what else to do, I proceeded to dash out and, yes, tackle him. I remember saying, very aggressively, “Grr!”

And so my career as a goalie ended. In completely unrelated-yet-vital youth sports news, one of my Little League Baseball Teams was, “The Bosque Farms Blimps”.

As an alternative to Organized Youth Sports, where your children could possibly be subjected to the type of questionable career-ending coaching direction outlined above, a parent can actually get out there and put together a family game.

Naturally, there are hazards involved in taking this angle. Most significantly, you generally have to participate. Now, this might not hold true for the rest of you, but the multiple self-inflicted sports and other injuries have accumulated over the thirty years I’ve spent in the dangerous occupation of being me have a tendency to flare up whenever I decide to do something more strenuous than scratching my personal sections. I also tend to be stupidly competitive, and tend to find myself going all-out and tweaking a knee while trying to, hypothetically speaking of course, stiff-arm a seven-year-old en route to a touchdown.

Also; I don’t have the asthma-trigger threshold I once did. After roughly fifteen minutes of high-octane participation, I have the tendency to want to start wheezing, falling down, throwing up, or all three. “Yay, Dad!”, the kids encourage. “WHEEZE-Hrnnghk.”, I reply.

As my wife can attest, another Significant Hazard of engaging in sporting activities in the New Mexico region of the country is… Goat Heads. No, really. ‘Goat Heads’ is the local name for what is also known more ominously as ‘Puncturevine’. Evidence can be observed at: http://www.goatheads.com/goatheads.html, where it is suggested that one utilize a ‘Propane Weed Burner’ to deal with these things. I strongly suggest that you call them up to order their Anti-Goathead hats (Yes), and/or to laugh at them. That is not my actual point, however, which was that local flora must be taken into consideration before selecting a sports participation area. Note the following extensive evidence:

1.) My wife was tackled by the children and fell directly into a Huge Goathead Plant Area. Took roughly twenty minutes to remove the “goatheads” from her “flesh”. Took close to thirty minutes for the rest of us to stop snorting and laughing, but that’s primarily due to the fact that we were trying really, really hard to be sensitive and not laugh (Not successful in attempt).

2.) After shanking a nerf football off of a cactus, we learned that one can never, ever use that nerf football again. Unless one has an irritating neighbor. (“Hey, George! Catch!” “YAAAAAH!”)

3.) I would make it a point to cheer for “The Glenrio Tech Goatheads”.

In any event, involving our youngsters in the World of Sports has proven to be very rewarding and educational to the point where we’ve decided that the ‘X-box’ is probably a better option.

Concerned Reader Mail

Curious Reader Christi inquired, with regards to childhood sports participation: “…is it normal to be a tiny bit embarrassed when they don't do so well at first? We feel like horrible parents for even thinking that way...”

Fear not! Consider, at first, that American Youngsters are generally starting to resemble Sumo Wrestlers in Training thanks to a steady diet of saturated fat coupled with a workout routine consisting of stuffing another Dorito into their mouth whilst they stare at the television. Be happy that your child is one of the dwindling few actually moving his or her butt from the couch, as they’re already ahead of the game!

Further, one must keep in mind that the vast majority of athletics-participating people are going to be “average”. For the very young person just beginning to learn a new sport, “Average” can come across as “Comically uncoordinated”. It might help to keep in mind that the very rare few who instantly excel are either a.) Genetic anomalies. Or b.) On steroids.

Fire off your scintillating insights, inquiries, and ‘Doritos’ product placement checks to trav@spinn.net.

Trav Flatt

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