The Movie Diary: Put me in, Coach
By Dom Cioffi
“I had a friend who was a big baseball player back in high school. He could throw that speedball by you, make you look like a fool, boy. Saw him the other night at this roadside bar, I was walking in, he was walking out. We went back inside, sat down, had a few drinks, but all he kept talking about was glory days.” — Bruce Springsteen.
I’m not sure when it started (because it certainly didn’t exist when I was a kid), but there is a tendency nowadays for children to specialize when it comes to sports.
When I was a child, you played one sport in the fall, one in the winter, one in the spring, and one in the summer. And the sport you played in the summer was the only one that may have been a repeat from another season.
The idea was that you played lots of different sports and thereby learned to excel in a variety of athletic mediums. In fact, it used to be a source of pride to be a three-sport athlete in high school.
Kids today — starting as young as grade school — are picking one sport to specialize in and then finding ways to play it year-round.
And what, you may ask, is the reason for this change? Well, I hate to admit it, but it’s probably because of dads like me.
Take this fall for example. Traditionally, a boy had two choices for a fall sport: football or soccer. My son is too young for organized football so that wasn’t an option. So I asked him if he was interested in soccer, but quite honestly, it wasn’t a genuine question. In fact, while I worded it appropriately, the perception that I disapproved was crystal clear.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely appreciate the skill and artistry that is involved with soccer, but I never played it and I am not versed in the strategy or rules — therefore I would have absolutely nothing to add. And since I’m the kind of dad who wants to be involved and look like I have a clue, I inevitably present it as a less desirable option. Bad father, I know. But if the kid showed a genuine interest I would never discourage his involvement. However, now there is a fall baseball league to join (probably because there are so many other frustrated dads like me). Granted the competition is not as strong as the spring season, but it’s baseball and he likes it (and I like it, and I like that he likes it, and he likes that I like it).
So on the first day of practice I show up with glove in hand ready to do my part. Several other dads are there as well, some obviously ready to take part, others more concerned with their smartphones.
We run the standard, age-appropriate drills and do our best to keep the boys interested and involved. But subtly, we’re all checking out each other’s skills.
Over the course of the next few practices, it becomes apparent which dads played the game, and which did not. And as the “did nots” quietly fade into the bleachers, the “dids” take center stage.
I hate to admit it, but at this point, while the dads are still very concerned about the level of the boys’ play, we’re also concerned about looking like the ball players we once were. If one of the kids hits a pop fly foul ball, you can bet that the closest dad will be trying to run it down. And if a baseball is needed for a new drill, the dad standing next to the bucket will be trying to throw that ball dead center of the other dad’s awaiting glove. But things really kick into high-gear when the games begin and the dads start adding in their two cents concerning strategy. You can really separate the men from the boys when it comes to knowledgable approaches to game situations.
In the end, a wonderful camaraderie almost always forms. And the dads that used to play are more than happy that they got another chance to relive those glory days of yesteryear (because, ultimately, it’s all about the dads).
This week’s feature, “The World’s End,” is about a middle-aged man who has never left the glory days of his youth. In fact, he’s still the same guy, much to the detriment of his life, career and relationships.
Written by and starring Englishman Simon Pegg (you probably don’t recognize the name but his face is likely familiar), “The World’s End” starts as one man’s attempt at rekindling the friendships of his youth by roping four boyhood mates into a night of bar hopping. However, things take an unexpected turn when the other patrons turn out to be a little “different.”
I would have to place this film in my top ten most unanticipated storyline deviations. Seriously, this movie took such a dramatic turn about two-thirds of the way through that I could hardly believe what I was seeing. If you plan to attend, do yourself a favor and resist reading up on the plot. I promise that if you do, you will be shocked by where it goes. Of course,
“The World’s End” is not for everyone. It’s definitely slanted toward a male audience and it definitely involves a lot of barroom humor. There is also a British edge to the comedy, which I personally enjoy very much.
Check this one out if you’re in the mood for lots of laughs and plenty of surprises.
A sloshy “B+” for “The World’s End.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at email@example.com.