DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

May 1, 2009

                                                           

10 Cent Investment

Several weeks ago I was talking with a friend. His elementary aged son was on a select soccer team and they were playing a tournament in Cleveland that weekend.

The kid was 11 and traveling from Canal Winchester to Cleveland.

I was listening to “This American Life” with Ira Glass on Public Radio. He told the story of a Christian School in Texas whose football (or soccer?) team was playing a local boy’s reformatory. The coach asked half of the school’s parents to sit in the visiting stands and cheer for that other group of boys… otherwise there would have been no one to root for those boys. They would have been overwhelmed by the numbers of parents of the home team. (I tip my hat to that coach and the team’s parents.)

Currently I am reading a book Outcasts United about a group of immigrant/refugee kids who live near Atlanta and have a soccer team. The kids are from Africa, Bosnia, Serbia, Afghanistan and their coach is a Jordanian woman. Most of these kids come from one-parent homes and very few parents or “fans” show up to watch their soccer matches. The other team’s parents climb out of SUV’s, bring out coolers and lawn chairs and bivouac for the day.

What gives here? I came across all of these stories in the past couple weeks and it occurs to me what a flurry of activity we parents (and grandparents) surround our sports-playing youngsters with today.

I seem to recall my youth in the summer when I played Little League baseball a couple times a week. I was on the Bulldogs. The other league teams were the Greyhounds, Whippets, Scotties, Boxers and you get the picture. If you made the Bulldogs you got a gold T-Shirt with the name “Optimists” on the back. I played for a couple summers before it occurred to me to wonder just who and what “Optimists” were. It was a local service club and they sponsored our league. The “Lions” and “Police” and somebody else sponsored other leagues in town. One league was all “birds”…Cardinal, Robins, Eagles. Another league had Major League Baseball team names I think and another league was named for big animals.

 

So we players would get an “Optimist” t-shirt and a matching hat. That’s it. We would take the hat, go to Repp’s Sports Equipment, pay 10 cents for a black letter “B” (for Bulldogs) and have mom sew it on. I had a “Johnny Temple” baseball glove.

But when it came to fans at the game, it was limited to an occasional parent or two in a lawn chair, maybe some guy walking his dog in the park who happened by, and a couple kids’ younger brothers. On a hot day we got thirsty. Nobody thought of coolers. Water was not bottled. Maybe the school drinking fountain worked, maybe not. The City Park didn’t have a drinking fountain that I knew of (this was Lima).

When it came to traveling, we used a bicycle. Our farthest game in Little League was at the Junior High School a few blocks away (no drinking fountain there either). If you went by car it took 4 minutes, by bike it was 6.

And, no, those were not necessarily better days than now. Kids did not necessarily have a better time than now. It’s just that those days were then… and now we send our 11 year olds to Cleveland to compete and not to the ball diamond at the corner of Pine and Vine streets.

When the summer ended in my last year of Little League, we had won 14 of 15 and our coach, smoking a cigarette, said that we won the league. In his next breath he thanked us for playing, as we sat there on the dusty ball field, and then he encouraged the younger guys to “come out next year and play for the Bulldogs.” That was it when it came to celebrations and recognition.

By then it was August 20th and summer was over. No banquet, no trophy, no trip to Cedar Point. The “Optimists” let us keep the T-Shirt and hat, (and I owned the “B” on the cap). I found my “Johnny Temple” glove in the dirt, picked it up, borrowed a quarter and walked a couple blocks with my friend to get an ice cream cone; we had earned it. After all, we had won the league and I had gone 3 for 4 against archrivals the Greyhounds.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing