Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twelve Ways of Looking at a Lego League Meet

The Boy’s team competed in the local Lego league championships last weekend.

A few observations:

1. If you ever want to feel better about your looks, spend some time at the Lego league. I usually lament my bloated, balding self, but compared to some folks there...let’s just say that regular bathing puts you in the upper echelon. TW stood out even more than she usually does.

2. Although TB’s team is all boys, the kids generally were pretty well mixed. Since TG is only a couple of years away from competing, I was glad to see that she’ll have some allies.

3. I couldn’t help but notice that TB has way more fun with his Lego league teammates than with his basketball teammates. Different kids. Couldn’t blame him.

4. No matter how positive and worthy the cause, any kid-related large gathering gets old by about the fourth hour. By the eighth hour, I was live-tweeting my boredom.

5. Organizations need to make choices. Either go the “trophies are for the victors” route or the “everybody gets a trophy” route, but don’t try to split the difference. The awards ceremony at the end dragged for a full hour, with musical interludes, so they could give a dozen variations on “most congenial.” TB’s team got skunked anyway. Losing wasn’t so bad; they knew going in that victory would be difficult. (They finished fifth out of 21 teams, which isn’t bad.) But to then sit through an hour of consolation prizes and still walk away empty-handed just felt mean.

6. The coach makes a huge difference. Last year’s coach was a disaster, and the year ended in a humiliating flameout. This year’s coach was positive, engaged, and dedicated, and I could see the difference on a daily basis. The kids loved practices, and they worked together well. They were still unmistakably energetic ten year old boys, with all that implies, but they never turned bitter or contentious. Even in defeat, they were gracious.

7. I don’t know when the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” song -- and dance -- came out, but apparently, every kid in America knows it.

8. If you’re going to ban outside food so you can capture the revenues from the concession table as a fundraiser, make sure you have the infrastructure to handle the entire crowd at one time. I’m just sayin’.

9. Having learned from experience, this year the league added an ethics category. Judges spoke to the kids separately from their coaches, asking a series of pointed questions to try to suss out the teams on which the coach actually did the work. Perhaps coincidentally, I noticed a significant dropoff in attendance this year.

10. At one point, when everyone was sitting on the bleachers, the emcee asked for a show of hands. “How many parents here today are engineers?” It looked like about half. I’m guessing that if so many engineers think this is good training ground for engineering, well, they probably know what they’re talking about.

11. I was far prouder of TB’s team’s finish than I ever was of any of his basketball outcomes.

12. Next year, we smuggle in lunch.