So I am sitting here in the shade of my garage, sweating buckets because summer has officially arrived, and feeling envious of my daughter and the neighbors because they are all sleeping in. I started this post ready to complain about not having anyone stop by my garage sale when three or four cars in a row pulled up. Sales are much slower today than last Sunday but I actually can’t complain too much.
I made a killing last week and I am too darned tired to run around dealing with a bazillion people today. Yesterday was a pretty busy day. Liam woke up early as usual and was raring to go. Meghan got up only an hour after. She had a soccer game at 10 and it was already very hot by then. I always worry that she will end up with heat stroke one of these days no matter how much I try to keep her hydrated and cool. Her team lost but it was a valiant effort. They played a team of all boys (is supposed to be a co-ed competitive league) most of whom were older and bigger (one kid my daughter nicknamed “The Mountain” was taller than our coaches).
Last time they played they beat us 4 to 0, even though my daughter literally ran circles around “The Mountain” and exhausted him. My daughter only weighs 50 lbs and I can almost wrap my hands around her waist. And she will always be tiny! Doctors estimating that she will be 5 feet or 5 feet 2 inches at most. For all of that, she is a fierce competitor and fast as lightening. Her instincts are good and her foot skills have been continually improving. She is the team’s highest scorer and the second smallest person on the team. I am so proud of her, but I am not sure if she knows just how proud I am.
After the last game the coaches and parents conferred and decided that the boys on the other team were a little too big to be in the 8 or 9 year old bracket ( the 5 o’clock shadow on “The Mountain’s” face was also a tell-tale sign). So the coaches contacted the league but they said they were legitimate in spite of the fact that the league doesn’t verify birth certificates. Facing them again yesterday was a fluke due to scheduling changes but we had learned in the meantime that “The Mountain” was 12 and a couple of the boys were 11. They ended beating us 2 to 0–our team played much better passing the ball, centering it, communicating well, and our goalie was outstanding.
Now, I am a good sport, a very good sport, and have tried hard to install that attitude and the concept of fairness in my daughter. But yesterday as we watched the other team celebrating I thought how unfair it was and wondered how on Earth the parents and coaches of the other team could be be proud of winning every week against much younger, smaller players. If my child was on a team like that I would remove them because it’s basically cheating. And what values are they passing on to their kids? That might makes right, that so long as you win the ends justifies the means, and if you can lie and get away with it you should?
Now I know that life is unfair, believe me I know from first hand experience. And I actually despise the mamby-pamby, non-competitive youth sports leagues that gives a trophy to every child who dons a jersey. I was playing competitive fast pitch softball at 5 years old, no silly T-ball for me. I want my daughter to experience the ups and downs of winning sometimes and losing at others, because those lessons are invaluable. It makes them tougher and more adaptable. It teaches them to dream but to have reasonable expectations. And it motivates them to try harder next time. But it only works if the playing field is level and they play by the rules. Even then I know that unfair things happen, a bad call by the ref, an unseen shove and I expect those kinds of things , but the purposeful forming of an entire team of older kids, all boys in a bracket that they don’t belong in, I gotta say, is over the line.
But if I have learned anything about people it is that they will try to everything under the sun and hope to get away with it. Heck, even my yard sale today is a good example. I am already selling things dirt cheap but I have people asking for things for free! Is that cynical? Probably, but it comes from a lot of experience of being on the receiving end of a lot of shitty behavior.
I think this concept of fairness, but in a competitive environment, and how the world should be is at the core of who I am. It is what makes me a liberal and proud of it. In Arizona I am surrounded by conservatives who claim to be more Christian, moral, just basically better than not only liberals but even the more moderate wing of their own party (want an example? See the recent sniping at Mitt Romney by the evangelical base). In truth, I have found many of them to be liars, reprobates, perverts, hypocrites, filled with hate, and as far from Christ-like as is possible. I don’t deny we have some of those on the left, but what drives me also animates most liberals I know. We want a fair playing field or as close as we can come to it while also maintaining as much of our basic liberties as possible. What’s so wrong with that?