There was a great boon delivered to the blogging world this week. We in the unpaid, time-rich, opinionator class love politics, sports, and lambasting parents for their child rearing choices. With a happy crash, all these areas of interest met in one New York Times article about sports development programs for toddlers.
Apparently pre-school is not too early to get the kiddies ready to shine on fields of glory.
Parents are supposed to want to give their children a good start towards some great future achievement. It’s the specific expectation of creating a young Einstein or second coming of Joe Montana that is so laughable. Remember “Baby Mozart”?
I admit I did brain building exercises with my young’un, although mostly that involved talking and reading to him at an early age – well before he was able to answer. Speaking into the silence was also my business at the time, so it came naturally to me. We did some toddler swimming. Had there been a brawn building program, I might have gone for that too.
I suspect a day will come when this latest kind of over-the-top attention is not a big deal – maybe after the IFL (Infant Hockey League) gets a few seasons under the strap of it’s bright blue Scooby-Doo suspenders.
Other leagues will doubtless follow, along with live game day coverage on PSSN (Pre School Sports Network) and baby baseball fantasy pools. And when they are old, today’s children will remember how the preschool sports movement was immortalized on film.
Like legendary Footsie Ball coach Hoot Rocker’s famous speech to the Nottering Dome Day Care pre-walker team at halftime of their 2011 struggle against heavily favored Happy Camper Academy. Rocker was trying to salvage some dignity after an atrocious first half performance by his squad, which took up residence on the 50 foot line and hardly moved in either direction for 30 minutes.
The scene opens inside the Nottering Dome changing and nursing care area. The players are seated on their mats, character blankets draped over their sholders, their oversized heads wobbling on pencil thin necks or resting on their well padded shoulders.
The door pushes open and Rocker is wheeled in by two underpaid attendants. He weighs 400 pounds and can’t stand upright for more than ten minutes at a time. They players look at Rocker, for they are drawn to faces. Some offer him their nook, for he looks like he needs some kind of comfort. Rocker’s dark-circled eyes range over the toddlers for a full moment of unbroken silence. Then, quietly, as if the contest didn’t matter to him, he speaks.
ROCKER: Well, boys and girls, I haven’t a thing to say, and I know most of you can’t talk yet, so … there’s not much point in giving you a rousing speech. We had a tough go of it out there. They came ready for playtime. You came ready for naptime … each and every one of you.
(He tries to smile.)
I guess we just can’t expect to win ‘em all.
(Rocker pauses and says this quietly).
I’m going to tell you something I’ve kept to myself for years — None of you ever knew Bobby Bink. It was long before your time. But you know what a tradition he is here at Nottering Dome Day Care. Bobby Bink could build with blocks. Oh, he built. He made a tower that was twice as tall as me, and that was back when I could stand up and he couldn’t. And it was a tower just like that … a tower where he had somehow managed to perch Mrs. Plotsky’s coffee cup on the very top block … that fell over on him one day. The cup came crashing down and left a bruise above Bobby Bink’s left eyebrow. And it was that bruise that made his mommy and daddy take him out of Nottering Dome. It broke our hearts but they took him and enrolled him at West Point, thinking it would give him a shot at being chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Bink never got that job. He eventually became a Congressman. A Congressman, boys and girls – a small cog in the big machine, doomed to beg endlessly for money and praise. That’s not the kind of leader we launch here at Nottering Dome. I still remember the day they carried him out in his backwards facing car seat. I can still see his eyes. Bink didn’t want to go, I assure you.
(There is gentle, faraway look in his eyes as he recalls the boy’s words).
And the last thing he said to me — “Rock,” he said – “sometime, when the team is up to it’s diapers in yuck and the elastic is just not holding things in – tell them something for me, will ya? Tell ‘em to go out there with all they got and win one … just one … for the Binkie.
(Knute’s eyes become misty and his voice is unsteady as he finishes).
I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock”, he said – “but I’m sure I’ll hear about it. And I’ll gum an Animal Cracker for you and the team.”
There is a hushed stillness as Rocker and the crowd of toddlers look at each other. Some of the youth chew their blankets. An eye is poked. There’s some soft crying, then a hush. In the midst of this tense silence, Rocker quietly says “Alright,” to the men beside him, and his chair is wheeled slowly out of the room.
Toddler #12: Aga toota goop? Phththththththth.
With a single yowl, the players throw off their blankets and rush, on hands and chubby knees, through the doorway, for a play date with destiny.
I hope I live long enough to see that film.
Have you ever delivered or received a pep talk?