If You Let Me Play Sports

Back in the heady days of the ‘90s, Nike used to run an ad with a bunch of girls saying “If you let me play sports….” Followed by all these marvelous things that would happen. You know, “If you let me play sports, I’m 40% less likely to be depressed.” Or “If you let me play sports, I won’t leave you unconscious in a hotel bathtub full of ice missing your kidneys.”

Of course, I sat there weeping saying, “OK! I’ll let you play sports!!”

On the other hand, I thought Tatum O’Neal had resolved all that.

Anyway, in the murky mists of genetic pasts, insofar as they’re known, The Flower’s great-grandparents were athletic. Semi-pro ball players, a great-great grandparent who bicycled across the country and wrestled into his 60s, that sort of thing. But somehow, none of the grandparents were athletic. To say nothing of the parents.

The Flower is not particularly athletic. As much as I puff up about her skills, I realize that she isn’t one of these kids that is just a natural. They pick a ball and can dribble, kick it soccer-style, run with it, throw it—whatever. And that’s not The Flower.

Kind of interesting, since she started out fairly athletic. We did the IAHP program for her and she excelled, but more pressing matters took precedent and a lot of physical excellence diminished.

But—and I guess this isn’t surprising from an IAHP point-of-view—since she started playing sports, she’s gotten more physically excellent. Until now, she’s managed to do well by listening to her coaches and following their advice. But she’s gotten more confident, surer of foot, and I can generally see this change into “a naturally athletic person”. That is, I can see someone ten years from now thinking she is “naturally gifted,” with its implication that something was given rather than earned.

In her current season of basketball, she can’t do the Wall of Flowers, because they’re playing on a smaller court and the rules prohibit her from playing defense mid-court. I thought this might be a setback for her, but no: She’s come up with an equally effective defensive strategy.

To wit: She’s noticed that most teams have one really strong player/scorer that the rest of the team relies on. The strategy at this level is Pass to Johnny (well, Juan) and he shoots. She figures out who that player is and shuts them down. While she’s on, the other team has a hard time scoring. If she’s not (she actually missed one game so she could visit her cousins), her team takes a beating.

What’s particularly nice, though is that she’s seeing her hard work pay off, and it’s paying off fast enough that I’m less worried she might be boxed out of sports as they get more competitive.

She continues to pursue her other interests opportunistically. The other day she put together a Banker’s box and the hard part was getting Grandpa to not direct her…

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