Pu-Pu Platter Sports: Basketball-Soccer

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A mother at the twins' school had a brilliant idea -- set up a private sports class at the indoor gym center solely for kindergartners at the school. It would give the kids a chance to run off their energy in the afternoon, and they'd be playing the game with their classmates, giving them extra time to socialize with people who will indeed be in their lives for the next 13-or-so years. And all of this bonding could take place inside a sports complex that smells as if you have your face pressed inside a man's sweaty jock strap.

I wanted the kids to take the class because they're not really sporty. They like to run around on the playground and toss around a ball, but they haven't gotten into the idea of team work. Of passing the ball. Of giving the game your best effort and being okay if you lose. You know... all those skills I never learned as a kid because I didn't play sports.

So I told the mother that the twins' were on-board with the plan. The problem was which sport to pick.


Keeping in mind the attention span of 5-year-olds, the basketball-soccer class was started. It's sort of the pu-pu platter of after school activities. The kids start on the plastic grass carpet of the indoor soccer field, quickly run through a few skills, play a three-minute scrimmage, and then run across the hallway to a basketball court where they quickly run through a few skills and play a three-minute scrimmage.

The benefit is obvious -- like the weather in DC, if you don't like it, you can wait a few minutes and everything will change. They don't stick to any activity long enough for the kids to get frustrated. They get a sense of both sports for the price and time commitment of one. I've always been a fan of fusion cuisines that bring together two tastes, and this sports class sounded like the best of all possible worlds.

The problem is that it's not really long enough to learn either sport, and the twins ended up disliking both. When we left the last class, they both informed me that they now disliked soccer and basketball -- two sports that interested them prior to the class -- and my son wanted to give them up and learn golf instead. They thought they understood the two sports based on their brief exposure, but I tried to explain to them that they may find that really enjoy soccer or basketball if given an entire class in one or the other. They looked at me dubiously since kindergartners know everything.

They rolled their eyes as I prattled on about the fine tradition of combining two or more sports that do not belong together at all. People train for triathlons, getting wet with a swim, then inexplicably jumping on a bicycle, and once their legs are like jelly, popping off the bike to run. And what the hell is up with the biathlon? Cross-country skiing... and then shooting at things?

Both have promised to give the two sports another chance in the future. Though for the time being, my daughter would like to focus on ballet. And my son would like to take a golf class -- plain and simple. You know, the sort where you play a single sport for an entire hour and learn the whole game. Feh -- where is the fun in that?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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