Lots of mammals would kill to have my thumbs

This summer I want to see if I can get the four-year-old interested in sports. We signed him up for an introductory sports class at the YMCA last fall. He enjoyed all the running around, but he was not great at the parts that required him to do something purposeful with any kind of ball.

dunking practice

Learning the one-armed slam dunk. Who needs fundamentals when you can power slam?

If he turns out not to like sports, that’s fine. But he probably should have the benefit of the exposure before he makes his final decision. That exposure should probably include more than seeing his dad watch sports on TV.

His favorite sport from his class was soccer. Of course it was. Let’s just say I don’t love soccer. Evolution gave me opposable thumbs for a reason, and I don’t think that reason was to award the opponent a free kick every time I try to use my special thumbs during a game – oh, sorry, I meant match, not game.

Oh well, if he wants to play soccer, we’ll play soccer. But we may also sneak some basketball in as well, so I can really shine the spotlight onto my awesome thumbs.

I love basketball, which is not to say I was ever great at it. I gave up playing organized basketball after 7th grade when it became clear that I would always be one of the guys who gets to play the last 30 seconds of a blowout.

Basketball is a game requiring self-confidence, and once you become the player at the end of the bench nearest the exit, it’s hard to imagine what self-confidence is, or to be able to pronounce it. That last half-minute of a lopsided game is ample time for you to dribble the ball off your foot and miss three layups. Even if you play competently in pick-up games, you will shoot the ball off the side of the backboard when the world is watching.

dribbling practice

Learning the double dribble technique that will earn him a comfy spot on the bench. He’s got all his daddy’s thumbs.

I did make a last-second shot in one game, though. I caught an inbound pass and hoisted a 15-footer that bounced around the rim before falling through at the buzzer. My teammates, all of them who weren’t already in the locker room, mobbed me. It was quite a celebration. We won that game by 27 points, but it would have been a measly 25 if not for my late heroics.

My wife ran track in high school. Her race was the 100 meters. This was the only distance she ran because she couldn’t figure out how to run and breathe at the same time and that was as far as she could go without air. I think she also tried out for the swim team, but her breathing techniques and water didn’t mix.

Neither of his parents are in any shape to coach the boy to stardom. But, he doesn’t need to be a superstar. He doesn’t even need to love sports. All he really needs to do is quit asking to watch Cartoon Network when I’m fully involved in a college basketball tournament game.


6 comments on “Lots of mammals would kill to have my thumbs

  1. Tom W says:

    I think it’s time you guys had that man to man talk about college scholarships. Whats better for Mom and Dad, a free ride at MSU for playing basketball or a few grand for soccer?

  2. Oh Scott, I LOVE basketball. My daughter played through high school. Unfortunately, she is only 5’2″ tall which made for plenty of concussions against the biggest high school girls I’ve ever seen in my life, but that kid could dribble and shoot 3 pointers! She was a real pest out there.

    I have to say, though, that I’m not an NBA fan. I do love those college hoops though!

  3. Papa Angst says:

    Very funny. I love that soccer has become code for culture war in this country and the opposable thumb metaphor which suggests that all those soccer-playing and -loving people around the world are lesser evolutionary beings than those who NFL-loves who use their thumbs to man the remote and pick wedgies from their butts. (Just kidding. I was playing along with the take-the-bait sarcasm.)

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