NO TURNING BACK


A Captivating Title

A captivating post title is often hard to nail down so I routinely refer to other sources for inspiration and ideas.  This morning was a little different–an apt title leapt out at me while I was in church.  The image appeared on a 300″ HDTV that had a viewing area of 146″ x 260.”   That size image is large enough to make a lasting impression on anyone.  Our current church series “No Turning Back,” focuses on those moments when you must open your mind to all possibilities, without feeling restricted and rise to the occasion when you truly believe nothing is insurmountable.  In my post today I recall one of those no turning back, “all-or-nothing” challenging instances.

Summer 1977

It’s summer 1977.  We are the proud parents of three children:  two boys, ages 9 and 11, and a little girl, age 4.  Our family is deeply involved in church, community, and school activities, including sports events.  Dad is coaching Catholic Youth Organization baseball; I am supporting him and our boys who are on the team by keeping score, baking goodies to feed team members, wiping noses, and whatever else that needs to get done to keep their enthusiasm for the sport and competitions afloat throughout the season.  Our team name was “Gino’s Giants,” sponsored by the then-popular fast-food chain “Gino’s.”  Gino’s was just across the street from our church. (Kentucky Fried Chicken went on to buy-out Gino’s).

Gender Inequality

It’s important that you understand the setting here.  It’s 1977 and gender-equality is yonder way, yet to be recognized or even embraced.  It’s at least mid-season and a Tuesday night.  Our usual cast of fathers along the sidelines who typically cheer, yell, bully, and cajole the coach and the players of both teams are not present tonight!  And, the opposing team’s coach is already bullying his athlete’s with his customary annoying, irritating and demoralizing name-calling and insults that he believes boost his team’s competitive spirits and sportsman characters.

We are the home team and our rank among the teams in our league is probably close to last place unlike our larger-than-life coach and his opposing team who easily hold a consistent first-place standing. Hmmm?

Now, the league has no paid umpires for weeknight scrimmages. The rule is that the home team provides an umpire from among the cast of spectator fathers, brothers, or uncles, etc.–In other words–the male gender only!  Loud and boisterous opposing coach sees we have no men available and chooses a man from his team’s spectators.  And, let the games begin!

The Game

After several innings of play, the score is 12 to 1 in the opposing team’s favor.  The opposing team’s umpire has made several questionable calls and our team and spectators are feeling despondent and even victimized.  So, I turn to my husband and say to him; “Put me in as umpire–I can do it!”  He looks at me and without hesitation calls over the other coach who profusely protests his pick’s substitution and threatens to challenge the game. So, here’s the picture – the other coach is a burly 6-foot tall, 210 pounds (with beer belly),  red complexion, with tousled and sweaty red hair.  There I am:  5-foot-5-inches, fair complexion, slight build, weighing in at about 115 pounds–and normally quite shy and introverted.  But the situation tonight and the examples of poor sportsmanship  that are being flaunted in the eyes of our pubescents has brought me to the point of “no turning back!”  I must “carpe diem,” for the sake of all the children in this league–once I can overcome the humiliation of wearing the ugliest man-sized umpire mask that cages in my forehead and lower jaw areas–definitely not a good look or me!

The game resumes the other team’s coach is now personally bullying me and challenging every call I make as the replacement umpire.  Our team is still miserably behind with no hope in sight to escape this roust and yet “the big man on campus,” wants to continue ranting, raving, and throwing a man-sized temper tantrum.  It’s at this point when the opposing team’s coach runs into the field and gets up in my face to further intimidate me as he probably does many of the people that cross his path on a daily basis.  But, here I am, and it’s my all-or-nothing moment on behalf of our children and other good parents.  I first ask him to please leave the field, to which he responds, “Or, what?”  So, I say, “I respectfully asked you to leave the field so the game can proceed.  He again says, “Or, what?”  So for the third time, I emphatically state, “If you don’t leave this field now, I will ask you to leave the game and your team will forfeit the game for your unsportsmanlike conduct!”  His spectators helped usher him off the field, but he ended with; “This is not the last of this and I will protest this game with the CYO.” –And he did!  And, the CYO disqualified the game.

Who Lost and Who Won?

So, I stood my ground and stood up for our kids and good sportsmanship, but, I suspect everyone lost that day.  I guess I’d have to get the perspectives of those kids who were present for the experience.  What’s your take?

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