Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Zebra Dreams

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. . .

8 comments:

Trueself said...

Ok, ok, you've picked the one topic that could probably draw me out of my self-imposed silence in the comments -- basketball.

Yes, I would imagine that refereeing in front of Izzo could be a bit intimidating. However, given Izzo's personality I have no doubt he would be one of the most gracious parents in the gym. Izzo is a class act.

When you live in the shadow of a Big Ten University you do end up rubbing shoulders with some people you might not normally. One of N's close friends is the son of an Olympic gold medalist mom and a former NFL player dad. If you had asked me if I ever dreamed I'd be chatting with an Olympic gold medalist in my kitchen I'd have told you that you were nuts. Turns out though that I have. Go figure.

lime said...

hahah! must have been daunting indeed.

for a different kind of girl said...

I actually am the mother of the next incarnation of LeBron James. But I keep my voice down while at the games. And I asked my son who LeBron James was first...

:)

Bunny said...

That would be weird. Weirder: being the coach of Tom Izzo's kid. Coaches take a lot of crud from parents sometimes, but coaching a coach's kid would be nerve-wracking.

C-Marie said...

I'll agree with Bunny - had to be like walking on eggshells!

Desmond Jones said...

Actually, the thing that impressed me the most was that Coach Izzo took an hour or so out of his schedule (and major-college hoops coaches have insane schedules) to watch his daughter play a middle-school basketball game. Elite-level college coach or no, he's still her dad, and that just increased my admiration. . .

Truey - I knew if I just found the right topic, I could lure you back out into circulation. . .

Sitting in your kitchen with an Olympic gold medalist would be very cool. . .

Lime - At least, it seemed to me like it might. . .

faDKoG - Say hi to LeBron for me. . . And listen, could you check and see if he's got any openings on his posse?

Bunny - Good point. Altho, I didn't get the impression that Young Miss Izzo is terribly interested in following in her dad's footsteps; more like my daughter - it's just a fun thing to do with the girls in her class. . .

C-Marie - I didn't really get a 'walking-on-eggshells' vibe out of it, but a definite awareness of who was watching, and just how well he understands the game they're trying to call. . .

FTN said...

I bet his kids will feel a bit of pressure to be REALLY good as they get older.

Geez, I felt pressure playing middle-school basketball, just by virtue of being the tallest in my class.

Desmond Jones said...

FTN - Interesting point. Altho I didn't get that vibe from the situation. She just seemed like an 8th-grade girl who wasn't really all that into playing basketball, having some fun with her friends. . .

And I feel your pain. I've got a brother who's 6-5 and decently athletic, but he just never got into basketball, partly because so many people were pushing him that way. . .