July 13, 2012
For my recent birthday Grandson William presented grandpa a T-shirt proudly announcing: NEW YORK STATE (2012) Boy’s Niagara District Qualifiers AAU BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP. Listing on the T-shirt are Boy’s 5th grade to 11th grade qualifying teams, included is William’s Boy’s 6th Grade (Syracuse) East Side Hoops. William’s mother reported to Grandpa that East Side Hoops come from East Syracuse and surrounding suburbs. Many having played together since 3rd grade “display teamwork, chemistry, and skills other teams don’t possess”. Well coached they play “full-out all the time – whether they are at practice, in a close game, or ahead by thirty . . . because they love the game and playing together.” Sporting a record of 31-1 they often play up one level for more equal competition. The Eastern Region National AAU Championship Tournament takes place in Hampton, Virginia next week. East Side Hoops, qualified for the Division I tourney, has decided to play its first year in the Nationals at Division II and compete in the 6th grade category. There are 60 teams in the tourney. East Side Hoops first game is Tuesday (6/17) with one or two games daily to determine final standings and championships. Whether winning or losing and final standing in the tourney, hopefully, the members of the East Side Hoops, including grandson William, will WIN WITHOUT BOASTING _ LOSE WITHOUT EXCUSES. (For results of the East Side Hoops play at the AAU tourney see addendum (7-24) to this blog)
Seventy years of age separate William and grandfather. In a blog POINT TAKEN: SKILL AND INTELLIGENCE (March 1, 2012) note was taken regarding development of the game itself as well as the overall skill level of the individual player. Nothing could be more telling than comparing the skill-set of grandson and grandfather in the early teens. The blog observed: “The development and skills displayed in development of the game over seven decades is dramatic. Seven decades ago long shots were dispatched underhand, free throws as well, the push shot in initial stage of development, rare the player who could dribble with right or left hand, hook shots rare. My grandson William in sixth grade in Syracuse is a powerful pitcher and skilled basketball point guard ( comment – most any position). . . . Having professional one-on-one coaching he dribbles two basketballs at a time, (and) sophisticated in fundamentals”. Innate athletic ability of individuals separated by seven decades is, perhaps, more comparable but vast disparity in skill proficiency is more typical.
Recently we visited the exhibit The Sports Show: Minnesota at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Featured are photographs of sports as part of everyday life in Minnesota from the late 19th. century to the present. Included are a “wide range of images of people, places, and games that capture the spirit of Minnesota sports history.” One particular picture with a description SPORTS MEMORIES captured my attention. This illustrates clearly why William’s skills so overshadow those of his grandfather at comparable age. Pictured is an old decrepid gym floor and environment. An environment more typical seventy years ago. Brian Dunn, CEO, Best Buy provides the Memories description aside the picture. His sons play in modern gymnasiums with excellent AAU coaching. This is true in grandson William’s case. “Watching my sons, Dunn notes, play AAU . . . I”m struck by the purity of the game . . . by how the boys compete, deal with the pressures of winning and losing, and what it means to be a team . . . how our sons answer the inevitable call of the game – the ups and downs – the tests big and small, that are intrinsically part of the game . . . Watching it all play out, and seeing my boys learn lessons that will serve them well in life.”
On the varsity dressing room bulletin board when grandpa was a member of Concordia, Milwaukee Academy and junior college basketball varsity was the injunction: WIN WITHOUT BOASTING – LOSE WITHOUT EXCUSES. Saluting East Side Hoops Grandpa extends best wishes for sportsmanlike play at the AAU championship tourney in Hampton, Virginia. Above all may East Side Hoops commit to the values of sportsmanship and appropriate deportment that will WIN WITHOUT BOASTING – LOSE WITHOUT EXCUSES. But Grandpa hopes for a display of skills and accompanying values that results in a WIN.
ADDENDUM 7-24- 2012) William’s mother wrote in an email 7-24: “We just returned from the National AAU Basketball Tourney in Hampton, Va where William’s team took 5th place out of 64 teams. Their record was 8-1, with their one loss to a big Ohio team to Qualify for the final four. Going into the tourney we did not know how well the boys would do because they have not done the usual traveling outside of the area and are a relatively new team. We came to realize how unusual the chemistry and skill set of the team really is.”