Shot Clock

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Hi, everyone. I wanted to thank everybody for your comments of support and also for asking me when the next post would be appearing. Life got a bit busy and this little project of mine fell off the radar for a bit. I suppose you’re wondering what this has to do with the “Shot Clock”. Well, nothing really; however, what I would really like to write about my Shot Clock experience at my son’s lacrosse game this evening is:
SHOT CLOCK: WTF???
And that’s it. I’m out.

I suspect that you want to know more about said Shot Clock experience (and I will continue to use title case for “Shot Clock” because that is how special the “Shot Clock” is) and so let’s begin.

It all started innocently enough when an email arrived in my inbox entitled “Volunteer Roles at Game Tonight”. I chuckled and thought – of course we will have to do something tonight. My better half is out of town and I will have my younger son in tow at the game. Sure enough, as I perused the email there it was:

Shot Clock: Vankka

Sigh. And then I thought: “How hard could this be?”. I’ve run the time clock before, kept score and manned the penalty box. I could do this. Right?

Fast forward to 7:00 PM. I arrive at ARC (Acadia Recreation Centre for those of you who didn’t grow up in my ‘hood) with two kids and a bag of jerseys in tow (on time, I might add). We meet the coaches, I hand over the jerseys, one child disappears into a dressing room and I casually say: “So, I’m on the Shot Clock tonight. Is that a hard thing to do?”. The blank stares I received from the coaches followed immediately by the shifting of feet as their gazes met the floor tells me that this might be the first time a female has been on point for the Shot Clock. I get the distinct sense that this is a job usually taken care of by “Dad”.  “Alrighty then.”; say I. “I’m going to be at the vending machines for a bit.” Seriously? Did I really just say that? Am I in Junior High? UGGHHH. My young son, however, is thrilled, just thrilled that we are going to the vending machines. So much for the apples and cucumber I packed for him.

We still have some time to kill so my son and I take a seat in the stands and watch the few remaining minutes in the game that is currently taking place. I scan the box and locate the fellow who I believe is holding the remote that controls the Shot Clock. At first it seems simple. I start to notice the correlation between the whistles and the Shot Clock stopping and starting, the shots on net, the breaks in play etc. Just when I think I’m getting the hang of it, it appears that all hell breaks loose. There are too many whistles, too many back and forths, people are yelling and the refs run over to the box and lose it on the gentleman who is running the Shot Clock. Oh dear. In this moment when aggressive parents were pounding on the glass; when coaches were yelling at the refs; when refs were yelling at the people running the clocks; when my son was into his second bag of BBQ chips; I thought to myself: this is going to be a disaster.

And then it was my turn. I was up.

Let’s talk about what I was wearing for a minute because, if you hadn’t already guessed, fashion is an important part of lacrosse. You know, I had been having a very nice day. It was really my first “free” day since wrapping up classes at the University and I had met some dear friends for lunch. I hadn’t bothered to change before the lacrosse game because, frankly, I didn’t have time and I thought – I’m going to be sitting in that box and no one will really see what I’m wearing. So, when I discovered that the person running the Shot Clock (you know, the one usually run by men) must stand ON TOP of the bench in the penalty box in order to clearly see the refs (and therefore be in plain sight of EVERYONE), I was regretting that I hadn’t changed from my nice skirt into jeans; that I hadn’t taken off some jewelry; and thinking that perhaps I should have worn some flat shoes. Lessons learned. Oh yes, lessons learned.

Are you starting to get it?

SHOT CLOCK: WTF???

I was introduced to the refs. One said:”Am I going to have to yell at you all game or are you going to make my job easy?”. I replied: “Oh, I suspect there will be some yelling.”. And with that, I gingerly stepped up onto the penalty box bench and held the Shot Clock remote at the ready.

I won’t bore you with the details of the game. In fact, I couldn’t tell you much about the game. I was too busy watching the refs and trying to decipher their signals for when it was time to reset the Shot Clock. For those of you who don’t know much about the Shot Clock, it tracks the time allowed for one team to have possession of the ball. The time allowed is 30 seconds. 30 seconds – not 29, not 24, not 31 – 30 SECONDS. I will tell you that I learned how important this whole resetting of the Shot Clock is to many people. Based on my experience tonight, I would report that for some individuals, it’s a bit of a life and death, 911 kind of situation if that Shot Clock is not reset at the correct point of play. I mean the train is coming off the tracks; the hens are out of the hen house; the sky is falling; MAY DAY, MAY DAY, MAY DAY!!!! Yep, that about sums it up.

Now, I wasn’t in the penalty box alone. There was another volunteer with me. This person was a lovely mom, who clearly knew her lacrosse. She was very encouraging indeed. And of course, my young son was hanging out with us too. In the end, I made it through; although, sadly, our team lost by one goal.

I was clambering down (not so gracefully) from my standing position on the bench and had released my death grip on the Shot Clock remote when I accidentally said out loud: “Thank God that’s over. I am going home and I think a glass of wine will suit.”. This other mom looked at me empathetically and said: “I know. Our first loss of the season. This is so stressful. I totally agree with you.”.

I JUST LOOKED AT HER. I made some kind of non-committal noise and for once in my life; I said nothing.

I thought:

  1. Really? Stressed out about the fact that we lost our first game? How about the fact that I just experienced this 90 minute game in 30 second increments? That alone is just cruel and unusual.
  2. Seriously? Stressed out about the fact that we lost our first game? How about spending the last 90 minutes living in 30 second increments during which one is trying to figure out those bloody hand signals from the refs. Was that slightly waving hand just at shoulder height a “RESET” signal or a “Gee, it’s getting hot in here because I’m twice the age of these kids and I have to run around a lot to keep up with them.” OR; was that whistle to stop the clock, call a penalty, and by the way, ref; WTF was up with your comb-over? That was seriously distracting.
  3. How about starting to feel some sense of control and pride when stopping the Shot Clock at the correct point only to notice that play had stopped because some kid was lying motionless on the ground with a bunch of people crowded around and then noticing that the shoes sticking out from that crowd of people belonged to your son?
  4. And finally, how about when one of the time keepers yells over to you: “Hey, Shot Clock, where did that little boy who was hanging around in the penalty box go? I haven’t seen him for a bit. Did you lose your kid?”. WHAT?? Did you just call me “Shot Clock”? Don’t worry. We found my son. He was just in the alcove behind the time keeper’s box playing in the recycling with the empty Budweiser boxes. Welcome to a typical Tuesday night at ARC.

So, you know what, I wasn’t too stressed out that we lost that game. I was mostly thankful that I walked out of there with the two kids I had arrived with and that I had not been egged or had things from the vending machine thrown at me. However, I will admit that we left the arena through the back door.

And for those of you who are interested, I am enjoying that glass of wine.