Mid-Winter Bleak


These are the times that try men’s souls… – Thomas Paine

A little known fact, Thomas Paine spent the Winter of 1776 in Minnesota. I can remember being a kid, sitting at the kitchen table, eating my instant oatmeal, listening to WBTA report that Puxatawney Phil had seen his shadow and feeling my heart sink. Even at that age of sledding hills, snow forts, and snowball fights I longed for spring. This morning, standing in my boxers at the back door, calling the Indomitable Moxie to get the hell in the house and quit her yapping, I felt that way again. My God, I am not sure I can make it till April.

It was another mid-winter weekend of youth sports. We rolled out of bed at 5:20 am on Saturday to take Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect to a swim meet in the far reaches of Wright County. Yesterday it was 20 Prospect Jr.’s hockey game at the Parade Ice Garden in Downtown Minneapolis. And so goes the life of a parent in modern day America. At what point in our collective history did parents become the sports agents for their children?

It’s funny, but I don’t ever recall my parents having to take me anywhere to play youth sports. For baseball I rode my Huffy Thunderoad to Austin Park for practice, or MacCarthur Park for games. For soccer, it was a trip out to GCC on my Schwinn Traveler. OK, I admit, they did drive me over to Williams Park for football practice. I have to give them credit for that. I used to see other kids riding their bikes in full football equipment, and I was thankful for the ride in the car. But the point is the same. Youth sports was something of, by and for the kids. It did not involve long car rides, or day long events on the weekends. When did it suddenly take on all this perceived importance? When did it get so organized?

Maybe the youth sports bureaucracy of USA Swimming, and USA Hockey, and all the other youth sport machines designed to feed children into the pipeline of amateur athletics, will prepare our kids better for a life time spent in the Corporate Salt mines. Maybe that’s what is wrong with me. The carefree, lackadaisical, daydreaming I did while picking dandelions in right field in the 70’s never prepared me for the absurdity of life in the employ of my Dark Corporate Overlords. Maybe that is my problem.

Or maybe it’s just the weather. Either way, it’s time to pick up my pick axe, and head down into the mines for another shift. Peace.

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