Ferdinand the Bull and Basketball

I recently enrolled my six-year-old in a children’s basketball program at the local YMCA. It’s the first real time he’s played in a team sport. He knows nothing at all about basketball, but he enjoys running around, so I figured it would be a good fit. They had their first game on Saturday. What ensued on the court had a dim resemblance to basketball in that there were hoops and a round, orange ball present. Other than that, it had more similarities to a rugby game or, for those more zoologically-minded, a mob of adolescent orangutans, all hooting and hollering and running about in random directions. There was also one boy who seemed to be sternly focused (and focus is an admirable thing in six-year-olds, isn’t it?) on imitating Michael Flatley off in one corner of the court, earnestly pattering through an Irish dance routine with kicks and foot-poundings. The game was also graced with sharp, sudden outbursts of shrieking (from parents) when whoever had the ball suddenly experienced some sort of private epiphany regarding true north and would reverse and go charging down the court to hurl the ball at the wrong basket. My son, happily, did not have this problem. Instead, he spent his time doing a Ferdinand the Bull impression (from the famous children’s book titled the same), standing stock-still and staring off dreamily into space until, every once in a while, an invisible bee would sting him, causing him to sprint madly across the court before settling back into position. Still, he seemed to enjoy the game. At that age, I suppose that’s what really counts.

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