Adventures in Parenting #46: Basketball Jones

Sorry for the lack of content lately. I've had a list of about a half dozen things to write about sitting on my desk for a couple of months and no time or energy to put virtual pen to virtual pad. I'll try to get better but no promises. I don't know if you knew this or not but raising a toddler is exhausting. It should come as no surprise to any of you that I'm a big fan of Sports. There's always lots of Sportsing going on in my house. Football, baseball, soccer, tennis...pretty much anything that involves a ball and some kind of physical exertion (sorry billiards, you're out), I'm at least somewhat interested in. Above them all, however, is basketball. I play twice a week. I will watch any NBA or NCAA basketball game that finds its way to my TV, even Summer League games, which is basically like watching 10 dudes from your local YMCA play together for the first time. I think about basketball constantly to the point that I often fall asleep at night trying to figure out what strategy the Mavericks need to take once free agency starts. It might be a sickness, I'm not sure, but if it is, it's definitely terminal.

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Knowing this, it should also come as no surprise that I desperately hope Cooper will embrace this sickness as well. (I really wanted to make a "Down with the Sickness" joke here but I didn't think most of you would get it. I wish I didn't get it, honestly. That's some bad music, y'all.) When Lindsey and I found out we were having a boy, I immediately started having visions of him streaking up the court, dominating other kids whose dads were not nearly as ridiculous as I am, and realizing the athletic potential that I never really had. At the very least, even if he lacked the ideal athleticism that occupied my wildest dreams, I hoped he would have an interest in sport so that I would have someone to sit and watch games with. (Also it would be great for Lindsey because then we could stop having conversations that begin with, "You're not going to care about this because it's sports but I need to talk about.")

Needless to say, I have done my best to indoctrinate Cooper into my obsession. One of the first things I presented to tiny baby Cooper was a little soft basketball. In his quieter moments, he will sit and watch basketball or baseball with me and occasionally claps when something gets the crowd going. I've threatened (read "seriously contemplated") to tie his right hand behind his back to force him to become a southpaw. All of my efforts paid off when Cooper finally started talking in that his first real word was "Ball." If you've been in a room with Cooper in the last few months, chances are you've heard him yell "Ball ball ball" over and over again. He points at whatever basketball, soccer ball, etc. he sees and yells, he identifies circles on signs as balls, his eyes get huge when he sees a watermelon as he states with a guttural urgency, "BALL." Everything that is even somewhat round is a ball in Cooper's world and they should all be his to play with. And recently, he's started identifying the basketball hoop that sits in our driveway as "Ball ball ball" and wants to reach up to touch the backboard. So, yeah, you could say I'm getting excited.

This week I bought a mini basketball goal and set it up for Coop in the living room. Now I should say, he's never had access to a hoop before or seen me, or anyone else for that matter, shoot hoops in person. All he's seen is whatever he's observed in the fleeting moments that he's actually paid attention to whatever basketball game was on TV. And yet, he knew. I took this video approximately 3 minutes after I showed Cooper the goal for the first time and handed him the basketball. Apologies for the poor quality as I was very busy trying not to cry:

BOOM. This kid gets it! He knew exactly what he was supposed to do and quickly figured out how to do it. And look, guys, it's not just that he understands "Ball go in hoop." Air Bud figured that one out. It's the quickness with which he took to it and maybe more importantly to this longtime youth basketball coach, it's the form with which he's shooting the little ball. If I could get some of my 6th graders to get their form up to this standard, I'd be thrilled.


So obviously the kid is a natural and we'll be putting him into training as soon as he can, you know, walk and everything. But seriously, one of the coolest parts of this whole parenting thing is seeing various characteristics that Lindsey and I bring to the table burst forth in our progeny. Cooper loves to dance, to the point that sometimes when he's really gets the groove he looks at you with a facial expression that say, "MY BODY HAS A MIND OF ITS OWN I HAVE NO CONTROL." Drop a dope beat near the Coop and he goes nuts. Check mark in Lindsey's column. Now he's become a regular Basketball Jones. All he wants to do is shoot hoops and when he can't get his hands on the ball, he dunks whatever is readily available. That one's on me. Now if he exhibits a love for terrible movies or a propensity for yelling in traffic, we'll know who to blame (Lindsey and me, respectively).

I might be a little too psyched about this, Brian