She Got Game

If I had time today I would blog about regretting forging a note from my mother back in high school excusing me from the remainder of P.E.   I’d bummed trying to do a somersault in gymnastics the day before. I should have returned to Coach Smith’s class  and tried again. But I didn’t.

My personality suffers from not getting back up on the trampoline when I was in high school. 

But I don’t have time to post much on my blog this week because I have to speak four times in five days for various MLK celebrations (one down, three more to go).  And while it’s true that I don’t usually know for sure what I’m going to talk about until a few hours before I have to speak, I’m usually in knots the hours and days leading up to the engagement just thinking about thinking about what I’m going to talk about. As you can imagine, I’m popping a lot of antacids right now. And, no, speaking publicly doesn’t get any easier after 25 years.

If I had time I would blog about becoming a fan of women’s sports in my old age and all that sports has taught me.  I would write about what I’ve learned about competition, perseverance, taking risks, being resilient, and pushing your body to go beyond its limits from being a fan of women’s sports. 

serenaIf I had time I would blog about how heartbroken the week started out for me watching my beloved UNC Lady Tarheels lose to UConn on Monday night by 11 points, and then staying up to watch Jelena Jankovic roll over defending champion Serena Williams 2008 Australian Open and discovering the next days about Venus’ loss to Ana Ivanovic.

If I had time I would blog about the fact that if I liked football I would have lots of friends to talk to, but since basketball is my sport of choice, and women’s basketball especially, there aren’t many black women to go back and forth with about which teams are likely to make it to the Final Four or what it means to watch Maryland Terps coach Brenda Frese, enormously pregnant with twins, coaching her team from the sideline perched on an office chair, and how much her team will remember their coach and this season years from now when they must figure out how to combine motherhood with work.

If I had time I would write about how important Title Nine was back in 1972 for girls and sports and what women of my generation missed out on from not having well funded sports programs around at the time to help us discover our selves, push our bodies, and test our limits.  I would blog about the research that shows that women who have the most difficult time sticking to an exercise regiment in middle-age tend to be women with little to no history of being physically active when they were in high school.

If I had time I would blog about how and why sex becomes something of a recreational sport for many girls when they’re young and otherwise physically inactive.

girls hoopsI would blog about why I refuse to let my daughter drop off the basketball team despite her complaints that she sucks at the sport and why I make all sorts of adjustments in my schedule to show up for her track competitions which seem always to be scheduled on the hottest days of summer when one would much rather be sipping Kool-Aid under the fan on a screen porch.

If I had time I would blog about what joining the women’s college basketball message board over at ESPN has taught me about knowing the game, understanding plays, predicting winners and losers, but above all about the trash talk and verbal joustling that go along with talking about sports.

If I had time I would write about what sports has taught me about men, marriage, ministry, religion, patriarchy, and especially the art of political campaigning. I would also talk about how much preaching and public speaking are like playing a sport.

But I don’t have the time to blog much this week. My next speech is in four hours. I still haven’t decided for sure what I’m going to talk about. And I can’t get away with forging excuses from my mother anymore.

16 Responses to “She Got Game”

  1. RevMamaAfrika Says:

    Good point, Sis. Rev. Weems,

    While in junior high and high school, I did not like sports because I was not good at it. I was better at writing, English, American and World History. And especially African History, which I pursued on my own with a thirst that to this day is still unquenchable. Given that this was in the mid 1970s, as I was coming of age on the tail end of the Black Power/Pan-Africanist/Women’s movement of the day, along with raging teen hormones, my newly found knowledge and pride in all things African caused me to be a bit of a nuisance to my family and teachers. :)

    I couldn’t help but notice back then that girls who were good at sports got more praise and attention from parents and other adults for their athletic abilities than their sharpness in academics. No, it’s not either one or the other, it’s both if a young girl so chooses, but we, parents and other responsible adults, must always encourage our youth to be the best at all their endeavors. Girl jocks and girl geeks can be cool just as the fly girls, if I may use such terms. But we still must encourage our young girls to strive, reach, dream, climb; if they fall or strumble, keep getting up. And no matter if it is sports, academics, career, family/relationships, etc., or any other area in life, strive for the best and don’t ever settle for less than you deserve. :) :)

  2. Pat D. JW Says:

    Great post!

    I see I’m not the only one upset over Serena and Venus’ lackluster performances in their singles and doubles matches. I was so disappointed; I actually lost sleep. I admire those women so much, until I have to constantly remind myself that they are going to have bad days and lose sometime, but they are still champions. I must admit I’m a Tennessee Lady Vols fan and have followed the athletic career of our homegrown superstar Candace Parker since she was in high school. I love the Chicago White Sox and the “maybe next year” Chicago Bulls and Bears.

    But most of all, I love little league sports. Even though I have no children, I faithfully attended my Goddaughter’s track meets and my Godson’s baseball games. Now, I attend my “adopted Church children” little league boys and girls baseball games. I “holla,” cheer, encourage and dote over these children as if they were my own, because I know how important the village is in the lives children. And, I thank God I had a mother–a single parent–who invited her village of friends and mentors to come to my dance recitals. They applauded, cheered and encouraged me, even when I was awkward, had a sudden growth spurt and became self conscience about my budding breast, big legs, and undecidedly girl/boy/woman body, which prompted me to cease all forms of outwardly expression when dancing—no emoting.

    I began dance as a little girl, after my mom took me to see the Dance Theatre of Harlem perform at the Civic Opera House. I can remember us taking the bus downtown and sitting in the balcony, which must have been a real sacrifice for my mother. After seeing them, all I knew was that I wanted to dance, and she made it happen. However, when I turned 12 years old I wanted to stop dance classes and performing, because I became interested in boys and what the neighborhood kids were doing—“hanging out.” My mother promptly said, “NO”! She told me that I had to continue to dance until I turned 16, then I could quit. Thank God for momma. A miraculous thing happened. Between the ages 13 and 14, I came into my own; my body cooperated; and my technique sharpened. I began to earn scholarships to study dance. My “hobby” began to pay for itself. My “hobby” became my passion. I’m so grateful I had a mother, who said no and would not let me quit or leave me to my own devices. Learning to stay committed, even when I’ve lost interest due to laziness, fear, doubt, or thinking the grass is greener somewhere else has helped me over the years. And, it continues to serve me well.

  3. wisdomteachesme Says:

    absolutly l-o-v-e college basketball! both men and women. i can’t wait for MarchMadness!

    ohhhh–unc huh.. huummm, well, we’ll see what happens when the DUKE BLUE come in!LOL
    i’m in the midst of ACC/NCAA territory.
    also, i keep up with MEAC=Hampton is my team.

    the sisters may be tired-playing games too close together-but they are resilient!

  4. valerie bridgeman Says:

    Ok, you know got me! I’m a sports FAN (as in everything that requires skill, competition, and sucking it up to win)! Of course, I was YELLING at the TV during both Williams’ sisters matches, feeling every double fault and missed forehand. And my women’s BB team (I’m a hopeless Texas fan, every sport) is suffering in league play. I always bow to Tennessee, though. (And what a change in sports to see the coach pregnant on the sidelines!) Okay, I’m a fan because I’m an athlete. Ran track, played volleyball; gymnast; dance; play basketball; want to return to racquetball; still running; want to take up karate…. love what it does to the body and soul to push to limits…. I loved that commercial that had Cynthia Cooper and other Houston Comet players in it early on in WNBA history (little boy to another little boy: “you play like a girl!” answering little boy as Cooper walks off the pick-up game: “Thanks!”

  5. Angela Says:

    Sometimes when you say a little– you say a lot. I too encouraged my daughter to play basketball (all 5′2″), she also played softball through high school. It taught her to be a team player, a leader when she was captain and how to handle rejection, when she was told that she wasn’t good enough to play in college. I don’t have an athletic bone in my body, so I did what any self-righteous mom would do….. I lived vicariously through my daughter. YOU GO GIRL!!!

  6. talentedtenth Says:

    ***tip-toeing in, looking around & yelling***

    GO LADY VOLS!!!
    GO LADY SCARLET KNIGHTS!!! (If nothing else for the fact that C. Vivian Stringer is the coach)

    ***kicking rocks and muttering***

    uconn sucks! (despite liking nykesha sales back in the day)

    ***borderline crying and wondering***

    can we get the UNC women’s team of old, where charlotte smith hit that winning shot to win the title and marion jones was pre-steroids?!

  7. Dr. O. Says:

    Dr. Weems,
    I too pushed my daughter into sports during her school years basketball, softball, she even took up boxing for a while. I haven’t determine just yet what it did for her for she is still at the age of 23 trying to find herself. Along with all of that, what really inspried me from this piece is that even you get the jitters when preparing for a speaking engagement. I am often told that I do well, people received the message, etc I still feel that I didn’t do good enough. I think that’s the little girl in me that didn’t get to engage in the sports world while growing up and brought in to the sugar and spice and everyting nice piece.

  8. Woman in Transition Says:

    I played tennis in junior high and high school but couldn’t (i.e., wouldn’t) keep up the regimen it would take to compete professionally. But I love watching those Williams girls! I don’t have daughters, but I live vicariously through the two of them.

  9. talentedtenth Says:

    Woman in Transition
    I, too, played tennis in HS mostly due to my father being an avid player. I soon realized that it required too much running. And to make matters worse, my father used to aim his shots right at me to get me to move. Then I got concerned about my hair getting wet in the event it started raining while on the court…When I came to the realization that I would not be the next Zina Garrison, I quit and picked up basketball because: 1) I could definately beat my father one on one (all he had was a half court hook shot) 2) no rain indoors and 3) I only ran when I really felt like it :-)

  10. Renita Says:

    @RevMamaAfrica

    My stepsister was the jock in the family, and I was the nerd. It wasn’t until I posted this piece that I realized where some of my athletic insecurity stems from. It was hard sharing a bedroom with a jock..

    @wisdomteachesme

    Duke Blue? I don’t think so. Not without Lindsay this year.

    @Valerie

    I didn’t take you to be a jock. You’re so….lol

    @Angela

    I tell my daughter that I’m not invested one way or another in her becoming a great baller, but I’m lying. I’ll give up ministry in a heartbeat to become her WNBA agent.

    @Talentedtenth

    Lady Vols?– can’t warm to them, no matter how I try.
    Scarlet Knights? — C. Vivian Stringer is a brilliant coach!

    Okay you b’ball fans, I’m putting you on notice: I’ll be looking for all of you on this site during March Madness. Bring your trash talk. Bring your stats. And let’s have a good time talking about women and sports in March.

  11. Kesha Says:

    Rev. Renita :-)

    This is a great blog for not having time to blog this week. Just yesterday I had a professional conversation with a colleague about how we eached liked to work - basketball references were through the discussion. He played ball (and I didn’t) but I understood the metaphors for how certain team players had certain ways of working on the court and it was important to now how they liked to work in order to play well. This part of your post - “If I had time I would write about what sports has taught me about men, marriage, ministry, religion, patriarchy, and especially the art of political campaigning. I would also talk about how much preaching and public speaking are like playing a sport.” - I WOULD LOVE to hear more about when you get a minute to breathe. You probably could blog on that for quite a while.

  12. Ruby Sales Says:

    Okay, I might as well admit it, I am a basketball fan. When I was young and thin in high school and junior high, I played basketball.. 40 points nothing but the net. Me and bad boy brown(girl) could outshot, out jump many of the boys in our neighboorhood. My brothers had a basketball goal and cement court, and our house was the gathering place for the boys. However, my parents had a rule..if I could not play ball in my own yard neither could the boys from our neighborhood. I played that to the hilt, and I was the only girl on the court. Although I annoyed my brothers, they were proud of my skills on the court. They called me the pigtail little dynamite. To this day, I cannot pass a basketball without shooting. I was a cheerleader, too but I never cared much for it. I liked the thrill of competing and the sound of popping nets not to mention the screams everytime I made my back handed or half court shots..lol

  13. Sis. K Says:

    Dr. Weems — with no time left, you have managed to score big points on this one! Growing up, I learned sports and other activities with my active young mother, who played tennis, went skiing and always wanted me to be her buddy. She’s won many local and regional ATA and USTA tournaments and competed for nearly twenty-five years. I did play on my high school team, but found other interests by college.

    Even now when we go out on the court just to hit, after a few minutes she is ready to compete. It’s always been too hard for me to really challenge her game because she starts to talking trash and then wants to use her authority as my mother to quiet me. The whole scene just makes me crazy and then she is annoyed because I will not let her go walking around in my head, we have been through this same drama on the court many times over the years. Yet, when we watch televised tennis matches together, we holla, scream with passion and fury, you would think we were watching football.

    Here in this space, I have really come to appreciate my amazing mom, beyond the tennis court, we have gone skiing, snorkeling (to see sting rays) along with a few other hair-raising experiences.

    Finally, I don’t think folks fully appreciate the genius of the Venus and Serena success story. Look at their rankings now, but look comparatively at their wins and prize earnings over the years — they have been more strategic both on the court and in the business of tennis than any in history.

  14. valerie bridgeman Says:

    @ Renita,
    it took my friends and fam a LONG time to “chick” me up! I know why you’re LOL but, hey, we all gots us a past….

  15. valerie bridgeman Says:

    @ Sister K,
    I agree with you about the savvy the Williams’ have shown (which I credit to their following good coaching and financial advice from Oracene and Richard even when the pundits wanted them to get a “real” coach and some “real” financial advice). They’ve managed to get most of their youthful stupidity (which I assume they had like all of us, even if minimal) out of the news. That alone is worth a few million….

  16. Georgia's Angels Says:

    Dr. Weems-
    for me it was the 9th grade gym class and the parallel bars, I feel off and that was the beginning of my end. I got a doctors note never went to gym again. I reconized after reading this post that is the reason I can’t skate, swim, ride a bike or drive a car. One bad experience and I said I don’t have to this. However the good thing is because I recconized my fears I made sure none of my children would be like me. They all participated in sports, the girls were more into water sports. My oldest son was the heavy weight champion for the United States army during the gulf conflict. However when he was 13 he played soft ball for his school and was not very good, at one game he started crying because they wouldn’t let him up to bat. I asked the coach why and he said because he can’t hit, well you already know what happened after that. I informed him that if he worked in the field he should have a turn at the bat, he said no I took the bat and made it clear that nobody was going to hit another ball until he had his turn. Needless to say he struck out. Thank God the team won anyway, but the parents started calling me Georgia Steinbrennr behind my back. I didn’t want my son to walk away like I did, but today he reminds me of how crazy everybody said I was. Today I know who I am and stick to things I can do well, I really don’t miss the things that I can’t do, except when the kids or my friends say who’s driving Miss Georgia?
    thanks for a good memory

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