Both of my boys are crazy about sports. Logan is convinced that he is the greatest athlete to have ever walked the earth. We are praying humility kicks in soon. He lives for soccer. All other activities are simply a means to improve at soccer. (ie. tap dancing class was to improve footwork, gymnastics to improve strength, school to improve critical thinking skills useful in difficult games…) This week he has gotten up early every morning to stretch and train for his school’s Spring Olympics. I can only hope he shows this much motivation and passion towards school, relationships, and a career in the future!
Jack has attended Logan’s games and UCA games since he was three weeks old. In this family you have no choice but to enjoy live sports. This year he has protested his role as a spectator. He truly sees no reason he can’t be on the field with Logan playing. We’ve had to retrieve him from multiple soccer games and keep him out of the dug out. He takes his “bat” to every one of Logan’s baseball games and swings along with the batter. With each swing he throws the “bat” on the ground and yells “RUN FAST!” while running back and forth. I’m conflicted whether to watch Logan’s game or Jack’s fantastic show! Logan gave Jack a plastic bat for his birthday, but since a 2 year old’s space perception is immature, the bat isn’t appropriate for all settings. (I’d enter bruises on my leg as exhibit A, sore spots on the dog as exhibit B, and areas of the wall as exhibit C.) Jack has decided that a nerf dart is his bat. Since it doesn’t hurt when hit by the dart and it is easier to transport, we have not corrected Jack. We do have to explain at the ball fields, “Yes, he thinks that it is a bat.” No worries, when the dart is not available, Jack has also substituted a toy hot dog and a tooth pick as his bat.
At the ripe age of 2, Jack has already specialized in a sport. He is the greatest “Jack Ball” athlete to have ever lived. I would have written about Jack Ball earlier but we were busy wrapping up our “30 on 30” special for ESPN. Please indulge me while I explain Jack Ball to the few who are not yet well versed. At first glance, one might believe that Jack Ball is the meshing of several sports together but it is more than that. Jack Ball is simply not just a sport. It is a way of being.
To play Jack Ball, you must first gather your equipment. While any shoes can be worn, the greatest players wear rain boots or their parent’s shoes. You must then have a ridiculously large ball, a small net of some sort, and a nerf dart. The dart is to be held delicately with the both index fingers and both thumbs. Form is everything. “Home runs” are scored by swinging the nerf dart at the ball, faking an injury, running in a large circle, and balancing a ball on the net. Bonus points can be earned by kicking at the ball once the dart misses hitting it. The key component of Jack Ball is verbally labeling all activities.
Who can remember their favorite Jack Ball star yelling “I kick’n de ball!” or “Swa-wing de bat. Hit de ball.” I once observed a novice running without yelling “Run fast!” Rookie mistake.
The beauty of Jack Ball is that it can be played anywhere. Notable games have been played at Kroger, big brother’s baseball game, and church. True Jack Ball standouts will talk about little else. When asked how school was, a common response would be “I play’n de ball. Kick de ball. Get that ball! Go Bears!” Our family even sings “The Wheels on The Bus” including the verse “The Jack on the bus says ‘swing, hit de ball’, ‘swing, hit de ball’, ‘swing, hit de ball,’…
I’m not sure why baseball is referred to as America’s Favorite Past time or why Monday Night Football is so popular. Jack Ball is by far the most entertaining sport in my book!