Ejected From The Game

I wrote this in May 2013.

My son, Younger One, got ejected from his lacrosse game last night. First time he's ever been ejected from any sort of game. I'm not happy about it, but what really makes me upset is that I wasn’t there to see it.

I try to watch every minute of every game my sons play in. Of course, that's not always possible, and last night was one of those occasions. I'm a member of our village zoning board, and last night was the board’s monthly meeting. Too often, part of being a Dad means having to deal with scheduling conflicts, and last night, I chose to honor my commitment to the zoning board over my commitment to my son’s lacrosse game. I wasn’t happy about it, though I believe I made the right decision.

Younger One will have many lacrosse games throughout this and other seasons. The zoning board only meets once a month. Younger One didn't seem to care, probably because he knows he can count on me to make most of his other games. Still, I feel a twinge of parental guild for missing the game.

But enough about me. Let's get to this ejection business. According to Younger One, he got tossed because of a slash to the head penalty. (Younger One plays defense, which means you’re allowed to whack the ball carrier with your stick, but not, apparently, in the head. Sheesh! Kids today are so pampered!)

Younger One says he didn't mean to hit the kid in the head. He was just going for the kid’s stick--which happened to be near his head--and missed. Then, a second later, while the slashee still had the ball, Younger One checked him hard enough to knock him off his feet. That's when the ref threw him out.

Lacrosse rules state that a defender can check a ball carrier from the front, but not from behind. Younger One claims he checked him from the side. A judgment call.

I asked Younger One what was his coach’s reaction to the ejection. He told me the coach patted him on the back, and said, "Good job."

Apparently, the slashee was fine. There was no bad blood, nor ill will from him nor his teammates. No negative repercussions. Just part of the game.

I was glad to hear that. I want Younger One to be known as a fierce defender, one who will punish the poor fool who dares to enter his zone with the ball. I want Younger One to known as the toughest, meanest, bad-assest  defender in the league. What I DON’T want is for him to be known as a dirty player.

I've always advised my sons to play hard, but play within the rules. I’m not a win-at-any-cost Dad. I think Dads who are do their kids a great disservice. Of course, you want your kid to win, but more important than the score, is the effort. I tell my kids, if they give their full effort, they can feel good about the game, regardless of what the scoreboard says. This philosophy worked for John Wooden (check out his amazing TED talk), so it should suffice for me.

As for Younger One’s ejection, I’m okay with it. It sounds like it was a borderline call. Next time, we’ll just have to straighten those refs out.