09 January, 2014

The Beast is Coming

I'm looking forward, with trepidation, to Saturday. We're going to an all-day wrestling tournament between local international schools called "Beast of the East". Not to mention that it is at Yokosuka Naval Base, probably two hours drive from here (just 70 kms, but those 70 kms contain many millions of people).

Ominous title, though, don't you think? Actually not that creative, if you Google it, several different US competitions of the same name come up. And "Beast from the East" is a heavy metal live album recorded in Japan by a US band. 

Nonetheless, the tournament has the reputation of being a huge day. We'll begin very early, in the freezing dark. The bus leaves school (with my husband, the bus driver) at 5.30. I can see I'll be eating breakfast on the bus rather than at home, and I don't anticipate we'll be home before sunset. I'm anticipating exhaustion. The good news is that the guys will probably get more wrestling than they do in a dual or tri-meet, which is always good. That's what they train for: to actually wrestle.

Is it worth it?
I was talking with another "wrestling parent" the other day who's son is new to the sport. The parent compared it unfavourably to team sports like basketball, where if you go to watch it, you often get to see your child in action for quite a long time. In wrestling, you might only see a minute (our son's bout was over in 31 seconds last time). He thought it seemed like a lot of effort for not much spectator reward.

I didn't have an immediate answer for him, but later I thought about how there are many sports and other pursuits that people do where the "spectator reward" is short. What about a sprinter's parents? 10 seconds and the 100m sprint is over! 

Other sports where you compete individually for a team are the same. Swimming, weight lifting, diving, and even cross-country where you don't even get to see your child's whole race but maybe just the start and finish. 

And then there are other pursuits, like music. You sit through a whole two-hour concert, maybe, just to hear your child play the five minute piece you've heard them practise hundreds of times at home.

Is it worth it? 

That is something each family has to judge separately. On the one hand, yes, no matter how short the "performance" is, it is worth being there to celebrate your child's achievement. Not to mention that we're not just there for our son, we're there to support the whole team.

But that always has to be balanced against the whole family's needs and resources, and the cost of getting there (including emotional and physical, not just time and money). We "pay" more to go to our kids sporting events here than we would at home, because the international schools we compete against are so spread out in a metropolis that is so congested that it takes 2 hrs to drive 70 km.

We're lucky this season, we only have one child doing inter-school sport. This is probably the last year that will happen until we only have one left at home. In two years (after we get back from home assignment) we could have two wrestlers, one in the middle school team and one in the high school team. Those teams never compete together, though they often compete on the same day. Then we'll really be stretching our family thin. 

But I still think that it is so valuable to them and to our relationship that we do the best we can to be involved in what they're doing. It isn't easy to have meaningful conversations with boys (or girls) if you don't have interests in common. Being interested in their sporting (and musical or whatever) endeavours gives a lot of fuel for conversation and therefore relationship. I, for one, relish the opportunity to be a cheerer for them, not just a "sergeant" who orders them around and a "provider" to gives them food and clothes.

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