By Dom Cioffi
Now that the school year is officially over, I’m determined to make sure my son is going to be suitably active for the summer break. Left to his own devices, I’m quite sure he would quarantine himself in our den, fully engrossed in video games.
In the last few weeks I’ve signed him up for numerous camps and activities. He’s going to several daily basketball camps, a golf camp, and a few School of Rock camps. He’ll also be heading to the beach for a family vacation and going into the mountains for a multi-week immersion program.
The fact is, I’m jealous. When I was a kid, if I got to one camp over the summer it was a big deal. Most of my summer vacation days were spent riding bikes, swimming in the municipal pool, and inventing things to do. No one organized activities; it was up to me to figure out how to have fun.
One of my son’s activities this summer is a weekend basketball league where he plays two games on Saturdays and one game on Sundays. It’s a lot of basketball, but the kids who are into it love it.
I enjoy this time with him because I’m also involved as a coach. Basketball has always been one of my passions so to be able to share that time with him in that capacity is truly rewarding. (My son, however, may have a different view).
This past Sunday we arrived at the gym and went through the normal warm-up routines. I generally don’t pay much attention to the other team, but I happened to notice that they had a few really tall players, which meant we were going to be in trouble since we’re on the smaller side.
Once the game got started, my intuition proved true. Their big men were dominating the boards and scoring at will. I tried to switch a couple of key match-ups, but nothing was working.
However, about five minutes into the game, I began to notice that one of the other team’s big men was acting sluggish. He was getting heavily winded, and behaving oddly. Soon he could barely get up the court. His coach noticed and tried to pressure him to pick it up.
Finally, the whistle blew and the coach pulled him from the game. But as he was walking off the court, the kid went down onto one knee before suddenly vomiting all over the court.
The gym went silent.
In the seconds that followed, he threw up again, this time it sounded louder and more violent since it was accompanied by the silence.
Every kid on the court backed away while the other coach and I approached the rattled player. We helped him off the court, asking him if he had been feeling ill while paying close attention to the fact that he might hurl again. I care about the kids I coach, but I don’t want to be covered in their puke if I can help it.
The kid apologized and said he’d been fine prior to the game. He thought that the omelet he had for breakfast was possibly bad.
Luckily, there was a custodian in the school we were at. He kindly grabbed his cleaning supplies and within 15 minutes, he had the whole mess taken care of. A few minutes after that, we resumed play, with the sick teenager sitting on the sidelines looking pale and embarrassed.
Even without their big man, we still managed to lose. After the game ended, the kids shook hands and gathered up their gear. I approached the other coach and asked how his player was. He looked at me with disgust on his face.
“Well, I got the real reason he was sick,” he stated. “Zero sleep. Apparently, he was up all night playing Fortnite.”
My stomach turned when he said the word “Fortnite.” That video game has been the bane of my existence since it was released at the end of last year. My son and I fight about it constantly since it seems to have encompassed his entire life (and the lives of countless other teenagers from what parents tell me).
I got into the car afterwards and explained what happened to my son, thinking the story might have an effect on him. His response: a quiet murmuring about how he wished he could stay up all night playing video games.
This week’s film also features a game, but in this case it’s the age-old game of tag being played by a bunch of middle-aged men whose lives have become less than exciting.
“Tag” is the true story of a group of friends who started dedicating the month of May every year to a game of tag. As the years passed and they began to drift apart, they realized that the game was something that was keeping them bonded.
Starring a slew of familiar Hollywood faces, “Tag” is an off-beat action comedy that does its best to provide a fun experience. There isn’t much intellectual content to keep the viewer emotionally invested, but at least the process is somewhat enjoyable to watch.
A playful “C+” for “Tag.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.