'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
YOUTH SPORTS: WIN ONE FOR THE ZIPPER
Recently we were trying to coordinate a family get-together, and one of my brothers wasnít sure if his family could attend because their schedule was still up in the air. ďWe might have to zip over to Pennsylvania for a lacrosse tournament,Ē he explained.
Zip over to Pennsylvania? Nobody zips over to a place two states away. You zip over to Walmart to pick up some dog food. You zip over to the convenience store when youíre out of milk. You donít zip over to anywhere thatís four-and-a-half hours from home.
But such is the life of those unfortunate families that get sucked into the vortex of the dreaded youth ďtravel teams.Ē
While discussing my brotherís plight, one of my daughters said, ďHey Dad, arenít you glad that we werenít sports fanatics, and never were on any of the travel teams?Ē
Hmm, thatís a good point. When my daughters were younger and working hard at not being sports fanatics, all I could think about was my lost opportunity to fulfill my destiny as an enthusiastic ďsports dadĒ who screamed at referees and told my kids their coaches were morons. If my daughters were simply enjoying the games, being polite to their opponents, and not obsessing about whether they won or lost, how could I teach them the finer points of cut-throat competition?
At the time I felt bad that my daughters chose not to make sports the main focus of their lives. But now seeing what my brother and some other people are going thru regarding youth sports and travel teams, Iím now happy that I did not spend every weekend from 1992 thru 2006 in my car, crossing multiple state lines, racing to yet another major tournament or crucial semi-final showdown.
I have an old friend from college. I donít mean to say heís old, I mean our friendship is old. On the other hand, heís the same age I am, so I guess he is old after all. Anyway, he has a daughter whoís a very talented field hockey player. Over the last few years my friend has issued Facebook updates via his cell phone, to let people know which state he finds himself in on a particular weekend. (Usually the state of intoxication. No, just kidding. Iím sure driving 700 miles every weekend for youth sports would never cause anyone to drink.)
A co-worker of mine has two sons who are involved in what might be the most grueling travel team situation of all, youth hockey. Besides having to wake up at 4 a.m. three times per week, because thatís the only time the rink is available for practice, my co-workerís family has spent the last five Christmases away from home, traveling to various tournaments and jamborees in New England, New York, and if Iím not mistaken, Guam. Last month they spent a week in Canada, as each of my co-workerís sons played ten games in six days. From what I can gather, Canada is a nation that is beginning to show some interest in the sport of hockey.
As I write this, it is Saturday afternoon. I just finished mowing the lawn and I canít think of a single chore I need to do right now (but youíll notice Iím not asking my wife to refresh my memory). While countless parents across the country are at this very moment watching the fourth of nine games their children will play this weekend, and wondering if theyíll be home by midnight on Sunday, I think Iíll zip over to the couch for nap.
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