Glepchoonites 1, Humans 0.
Hell, Glepchoonites might even learn a thing or two from watching our kids at play. Terrific arguments over what's fair are resolved after lengthy and loud negotiations. Chaotic rules and disorganized games are the norm, whether it's baseball, football, basketball, pickle in the middle, freeze tag or some other game I don't quite understand. Big kids tend to look out for the littler kids. Along the way, these young children learn sports fundamentals and get their first introduction to government. Their fundamental rule? Every Kid Shall Play.
When someone is hurt, they all stop to check it out, astonished by this early demonstration of their mortality. Their exploits, whether playing in a downpour, hitting a long ball, breaking a window or finding some really big and ugly bug (which just might be an alien from the Planet Glepchoon), are discussed for weeks and sometimes a lifetime.
Glepchoonites 1, Humans 1.
I'll tell you one of my memories. When I was about seven, three of us planned running away to the hills south of Hellertown to become mountain men for twenty years. After that, we were going to return with beards and coonskin caps and cool stuff like that. We almost did it, too! For three nights running, I can still remember stuffing a lot of cans into a bag (no can opener), and sneaking off in the dead of night to meet up with my buddy and then rolling over to Debby Madison's house. She was a beautiful blond with sky-blue eyes. But for three nights in a row, she stiffed us. We waited in vain. Maybe she didn't really want to be a mountain man. Women are strange that way, even when they're seven year old girls.
These memories become much less pleasant once the grown ups get involved. We adults ruin everything. Once kids become six or seven, we encourage them to get involved in "organized" sports so we can "teach" them. And we teach them so well that by the time they're thirteen, seventy percent have had enough and quit. What used to be fun is replaced by screaming parents, mean-spirited coaches, rules, favoritism, more yelling, more rules and the forced sale of candy bars and slim jims. In extreme cases, they get to see their parents slug it out. The golden rule, Every Kid Shall Play, is forgotten. It's replaced by a shorter rule. Win. I think the only reason kids put up with it is because it's one of the few opportunities they get to spend some time with their parents. They rest of the time, they're shuffled here and there as both parents work this job and that so they can buy larger McMansions and bigger SUVs.
Hail the Almighty Dollar!
And while little boys hurl themselves at each other like in an effort to please their parents, seven year old girls along the sidelines receive careful instruction on how to say things like "Shake, shake your booty," complete with little jiggles here and there. These girls look cute. I can't deny that. But what the hell are we doing? We sanctimoniously condemn Muslims for shrouding their daughters while we train ours to become pole dancers.
Two weeks ago, I watched a pee-wee football coach screaming so loudly at his own kids he actually intimidated the kids on the other side. No one had any fun. When his treasured victory was jeapordized, he actually killed the clock and knocked nine minutes off the game. I hope the Glepchoonites were in church.
Glepchoonites 2, Humans 1.
I'll take a pick up game among kids over organized sports any day of the week. But don't get me wrong! Not all organized sports are bad. Kids do enjoy a little competition, although they're not so focused on it as adults. They love the uniforms and sometimes meet other great kids. And with the right coaches, they have fun. Some coaches still remember that.
Last week I worked the chain gang at a flag football game in Allentown. The other side was a little smaller, and they were having trouble moving the ball. After a few setbacks and on fourth down, one of them broke away for a terrific run and just missed a first down. The Allentown coach winked at me, signaled a first down, and told me to move the chains. They let the kids play, and they had a blast.
I smiled, moved down the field, and stepped on one of those big ugly bugs that keep popping up everywhere lately.
Glepchoonites 2. Humans 2.
And so the battle rages.