Some teams just don’t have it; they suffer their greatest loss before the season begins. Others never win a game but end the season undefeated. My daughter plays for such a team. Perhaps you’ve heard of them, The Lower Sloughton Savings and Loan Mini-Mites, proud defenders of the league’s Most Consistent Performance title. They play a game much like soccer, on a soccer field with a soccer ball wearing soccer uniforms, but instead of stifling their creativity with “positions” or “defense,” they gleefully swarm the ball wherever it goes and, following a score, equally gleefully disentangle one another from the net of their own goal. Except for fans of the sport, they are a joy to behold. To watch the Mini-Mites, one might think they had never learned the fundamentals of the game, but as their coach I can tell you we practice often and hard, though it’s possible we disagree about what’s fundamental. I came to my position by default, as you may have gathered, the only parent of any player willing to suffer the criticisms of all the other parents. We are the very model of a different sort of team. We vote, for instance, before every game, whether to defend our goal or use it as an additional target. Though they are mostly ten years old, and girls, I call my players men. The captain tells me what she and the men have decided. We substitute on the basis of who has to potty. No team we face is as good as my men at keep-away, accidental collisions, and playing dead, and no team hugs, hugs everybody, like my men do when time runs out. On the way home from almost every game my daughter asks me, “Did we win, Dad?” I love that question.

Copyright © January 08, 2009 David Hodges

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