To this point in his life, Finn has enjoyed — and been quite good at — team sports. Soccer, baseball, basketball — if he hasn’t been the best player on his teams he’s at least been in the top two or three. His aggressive style of play, particularly in soccer, has earned him fans and accolades among the parent class. I’ve left more than a few games thinking I’d have paid to watch him play.
That all changed with this season’s Laurelhurst Legends basketball team.
The team did fine. Save for one mid-season loss, we won every game handily. But for Finn it was a season lost, if not worse. It started well enough: despite his lack of height, Finn was still among the better players on his squad. In one early season game he poured in 14 points to lead the team.
But things changed somewhere along the way. His teammates, almost all of whom are classmates in a different 2nd grade homeroom that Finn, froze him out of the offense. If he didn’t get the ball via steal or rebound, he didn’t get it at all. In the third- and second-to-last games of the season (both of which I refereed), his teammates passed him the ball exactly twice (that’s 1x/game). In last night’s season finale, he was on the receiving end of exactly three passes (two more were intercepted by a teammate). That’s in stark contrast to the 20-30 touches for the next most insignificant player and a world away from the 80-90 touches for the team’s big dogs. His spirit was understandably sapped. Shoulders shrugged, head down, this just wasn’t the same kid who’d started the season. He tried to get open for a while, but in the end he’d noticeably given up. It was as if he’d said “I’m not going to get the ball, anyway. I may as well save my energy.”
Memories fade with time, but as I write this I suspect Finn may have played his last organized basketball game. On our way to the car he lamented “I don’t ever want to play another basketball game again.”
I can’t say I blame him.