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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Being a Scout Leader Is Good for Your Ego

I love playing sports with 12 year olds.

I've never really been much of an athlete. I didn't play any high school sports and I've never pursued a sport as a hobby. I don't play early morning basketball, I don't golf with my buddies, I don't play racquetball three times a week with a coworker.

But growing up, I played Church sports and flag football and I participated in P.E. classes, learning the basics of most sports along the way. I can throw and catch and make a lay-up; I can set, bump, and spike; and I know how to score a tennis match. My skills, however, are fairly rudimentary; I'm not one you want on your team, and when adults get together to play a sport, I usually opt out.

But as a Scout leader, things are different. My job is to associate with the young men, to build relationships, to have fun, to participate. So when they play a game, I often join in. And though my skills are not great--hey, I'm playing against 12 year olds.

Tonight for Scouts we played football, and I was assigned to one of the four-man teams. As the only one on our team who could throw a pass, I became the quarterback. My playbook is pretty limited, so we kind of made things up as we went and our huddles were pretty democratic. We were sloppy and we didn't execute our plays as outlined.

But perhaps the confusion worked in our favor, because we won (one of our most bungled plays confused even me, but we got a touchdown out of it somehow). In the effort, I threw three touchdown passes, kicked the longest kickoff of the night, had some key stops, and made an interception on the last play of the game, securing our victory (21 to 16; there was an embarrassing safety in there, but we recovered).

So being a Scout leader can be good for the male ego. While I usually think of myself as an awkward non-athlete, when I play sports with 12-year-olds, I can hold my own.

But 12-year-olds also have a way of bringing you down to earth. After our second touchdown, when we were up 14 to zip, one of the boys on our team commented somewhat incredulously on our success: "They have a guy [referring to the Scoutmaster] who knows a lot about football, but we're winning and we're all novices!"

Guess my skill level isn't *that* impressive--even to 12-year-olds.

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