Al Batt: It is not agnostic astronaut umbrellas, is it?

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt


I’ve been waiting.

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Sometimes patiently.

I don’t know if it arrives by the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx or by that mysterious Spee-Dee Delivery man.

Maybe wisdom comes strapped to the leg of a carrier pigeon?

I’m a grandfather, for crying out loud! Grandfathers are supposed to be wise. The closest I’ve come to being wise is by being a wise guy as a teenager. 

I thought I’d call the Federal Government about my delayed wisdom. I was surprised to discover that there is no Wisdom Department in Washington, D.C.

Some folks love the AAU. Other people dislike the AAU. Still others have no idea what the AAU is. It’s not the Aggravating Attorneys’ Ukuleles or the Awful Architect’s Uncles. It’s the Amateur Atletic Union.

The following is from one of an endless supply of AAU websites. “What is the AAU? The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer, sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs.”

My 17-year-old granddaughter just completed a successful AAU basketball career. Some AAU fans and parents enjoy AAU because it gives them additional chances to needle referees. The bleachers at most games are filled with the world’s worst officials. I’ve concluded, after years of study, that there is a certain percentage of the population (this doesn’t include you) that feels the world could never do enough for them.

I enjoyed watching my granddaughter’s team play. It’s hard for a humble Minnesotan like me to say this, but I’m undefeated as an AAU basketball coach.

Please hold the applause. I’ve never coached a single AAU basketball game. My win total sits at zero, but I’ve never lost a game. The devil is in the details.

Her team played in the NIKE Tournament of Champions in Chicago. The press release read, “Occupying almost one million square feet inside of Chicago’s McCormick Place, the 2018 tournament will host 784 teams and more than 10,000 athletes and coaches from all 50 United States and every Canadian province. This will make it the largest single venue basketball event in the history of men’s or women’s basketball. In order to accommodate the massive scale of the event, 76 regulation size basketball courts will be constructed in McCormick’s North and East Halls; as many as 24,000 spectators can attend the 764 games being played each day, with 152 teams competing simultaneously at any given time.”

Uffda! At her age, I played in a haymow with a crooked rim without a net attached to a wall. We took turns being the guy who never made a bad pass because he never passed the ball. Jeering pigeons were the only spectators. From that to the AAU. My experience was no hardship, but I think that’s progress.

In high school, I had to raise my hand when I fouled someone. I damaged my right shoulder by raising my arm so often. I walked it off. That’s what we did for injuries during those olden days when the school’s athletic budget couldn’t afford to put air into the basketball. I was taught free throw shooting techniques. Ball, elbows, knees and toes all in a row, helps the ball go through the hole.

AAU isn’t perfect. Nothing is. But I delighted in watching these young ladies play basketball over the past five years. The talented players competed hard while treating opponents, referees, coaches and fans with respect. There was no questioning calls made by officials. I enjoyed getting to know the athletes and their families. They had a superb coach who treated players as fairly as possible. It’s important to have a good first step in basketball, but AAU taught them the steps of purpose, effort, goals, teamwork and habits as well.

There are costs to playing an AAU sport (there are 35 different endeavors). That’s no surprise. Everything a person does costs money. Everything a person doesn’t do might cost more. As a man who has accompanied his wife to a shopping mall and done nothing more than sit at a geezer bench, I’ve learned it costs money to do nothing.

The girls had a great year, seldom losing. Even when they lost, they came out winners. I wish them all the right things.

Maybe wisdom comes from watching basketball? I learned what to do when it seems as if the rest of the world is dunking while I’m missing lay-ups.

Keep calm and dribble.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Tuesday and Saturday.