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The Defeated Season

What’s the opposite of UNDEFEATED?

This season, five 7-year-olds (my son, Liam, included) who would not have gotten much better playing against 6- and 7-year-olds "played up" in the 8-9 age group for more competition. 

The result was not quite what I intended, as we lost every game. The intent of this post is not to say, “I did the right thing,” either as a coach or a dad. I still don’t know if it was the right decision. Only time will tell?

In three of our seven games, including yesterday's final game, we trailed by 20 or more at halftime, and the score by the rulebook should have been reset to 0-0. With little hope to win, I asked the site lead on all three occasions to not reset the score, and I'm thankful we didn't.

As a numbers fanatic, I like statistics. Our average halftime deficit was 15 points per game, yet our average deficit at game's end was 7 points per game. Instead of folding, our team played through it, brought intensity to the second half, and the energy of the players (and the parents!) as the opposition's lead was something I won’t forget.

In a fourth of the seven games, we started the game with four players and had the opportunity to forfeit and take several members of the other team for a friendly scrimmage. I opted against doing so, wanting to work with my four players, and a fifth player arrived shortly after. Despite going 5 vs. 10, we lost this game 32-36, our closest game of the year. 

Looking back, our team and each player on the team got better throughout the year, but it wasn't always easy formulating a two-minute half-time pep talk meant to uplift and not break down the kids when hung shoulders and dejected faces were staring back. 

This season was a good reminder that it is simple to lead when things are going well. Clawing back from behind, this time as a coach, brought me back to a time where I remembered how important it was to keep fighting in whatever I was doing. The proverbial back against the wall.

My son has not taken to the game as I did, and he may never; he rarely touches a ball between Sunday games and I'm not the pushy dad telling him he needs to practice. I used basketball as a diversion, and I realize he doesn't need to divert in much the same way I did. But when I asked Liam after the game yesterday if he wanted to play in the Spring, the answer was "obviously." 

I just hope my decision to “play up” doesn’t backfire, for Liam or any of the other kids. I know it is not easy to lose, time after time after time. I hope if nothing else that the Pacers saw that I never gave up on them, and I’m proud they didn’t give up on one another.


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