Last week I picked my daughter up from basketball camp with tears in her eyes. Whenever she opens the car door, I always greet her with a jubilant grin and a HOW DID IT GO?!
My daily bubble gum parenting sessions are reserved for car pick-ups.
Honestly, I want to know: did she make a new friend, a spectacular piece of art, learn the name of a new bone, or ace the spelling test we practiced all week? But those are the questions I ask for school, not basketball camp.
She has tried almost every sport through her nine years: swimming, soccer, basketball, softball, gymnastics, dance for eight weeks (she wasn’t a fan) and, most recently, cheer leading. Basketball has become all hers. She wears the long shorts, she digs her coaches, and she’s been playing for four years.
My daughter will not wow you with her jump shot or make every free-throw, and she probably won’t even steal the ball, but she loves basketball and wants to play. Think of Rudy and replace football with basketball and that’s my girl. She can get better, but she will probably never be a star.
She’ll be the heart that drives a team to win. To get ‘em next time, practice a bit longer, to keep trying. There is a place for her on any team, but not as this basketball camp.
The tears were about her confidence. She felt humiliated and let down. And that broke my heart. I come from a long ling of maniacal, TV-shouting sport fanatics. Depending on the night and season, I can be one of them too. But scoring kids on how well they did at camp by circling 1 -5 and then heaping multiple awards on a few kids while the others sit and twiddle their fingers debating their worth?
Goodbye soul-crushing basketball camp.
My daughter was a two on the coach scale. She is a ten in AWESOME on my scale.
Actually, all the kids are. Unless they’re ball-hogging, elbowing jerks.
In life, just like sports, it’s not just about winning, it’s about how you play the game. If your worth is determined by constantly winning, regardless of the cost, then you’re a loser. If a coach only values the truly gifted, then he or she is a terrible coach. Find a kid with heart and you’re bound to make earthquakes. To not see the value of every kid that shows up? Shame on that program.
We’re all connected in the ebb and flow of life; of passing a ball down the court and into the basket. As the cliche goes, there is no “I” in team. But there is a an “I” in pie and we all deserve a slice. There’s enough to go around. Talent doesn’t go away because everyone is recognized for showing up and playing hard.
If life was a basketball court, my daughter would be one of the talented trophy winners. The children in developing nations would be the crest fallen bench. Every day 1 in 5 children around the world lack access to life-saving vaccines. My child’s trophies are her vaccinations. It means that not only have I seen her first smile, played the tooth fairy more times than I can count, and been her loudest cheerleader, it also means that in the time it has taken me to write about her heartbreak over a game, 180 children could have been saved with a vaccination in a developing nation.
Rotavirus, for example, is the most common cause of servere diarrhea among infants and young children. Each year more than half-a-million children under five die as a result of the virus and almost two million more will become severely ill. The Flu kills, but not if you’re a trophy winner.
That’s a high stakes game I don’t want to play.
Every child counts. Each and every one deserves a shot.
This post is part of the Shot at Life blog carnival. Learn more about Shot at Life and how you can help provide vaccinations to children in developing nations through a donation or volunteering to spread the word. We can save a child’s life every 20 seconds. Shot at Life is a United Nations Foundation.