All our kids have played middle-school basketball, from 5th through 8th grades, starting with 1F, and down to the present day, with 6F being in 8th grade. 7M is in 5th grade, so he’ll play this winter (our middle-school girls play in the fall, since the small Catholic schools that form a league together, mostly only have one gym, and it’s hard enough to try to schedule four teams’ practices in one gym; eight would be impossible).
A couple weeks ago, 6F’s team played a game against a team from a school across town, one of whose players was the daughter of Tom Izzo, the Michigan State University basketball coach (such are the occasional perks of living in the shadow of a Big Ten university; several years ago, 3M played a few games against Nick Saban’s son. . .) Coach Izzo came to watch his daughter, which created a minor buzz in the ancient, inner-city gym (for the most part, people let him watch his daughter in peace, but everyone was aware of his presence, you can be sure). The game was played, 6F’s team lost a close game (neither she nor young Miss Izzo scored any points), and we packed up to head home.
On the way home, Molly mused, “How do you suppose the referees felt about calling a game in front of Tom Izzo?”
I had to laugh; it hadn’t really occurred to me to wonder about that, but it was funny to think about. For these middle-school basketball games, the referees are usually young-ish guys in their 20s, maybe even college kids, who are paid $25/game, usually for two games. They get way more than their share of grief from parents who are convinced their offspring will be the next incarnation of LeBron James, or Candace Parker. But it might be the tiniest bit more intimidating, mightn’t it, calling a game where one of the parents in the bleachers has coached in four Final Fours, won a national championship, and been T’d up by the very best, on national television. . .