Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Monday, June 11, 2007


I learned something very significant today.

Someone who is well over thirty and doesn't exercise regularly should NOT, I repeat, NOT play basketball with junior high kids.

Today was the seasonal class matches for our 7th graders. Basketball was one of the games the girls were playing. I was sent there to supervise, but I took pity on the girls of my own class, who only had four members available. That meant they could neither field a full, five-person team nor replace members midcourse. They wound up getting soundly stomped during their first game, so I took pity on them and joined in the second. In doing so, I discovered several things:

  • Contrary to popular belief, 7th grade girls in Japan definitely know how to play basketball.
  • Some of them are damned good shooters even though they are less than 5' tall.
  • However, the average height of 7th grade girls in Japan is now considerably higher than it was ten years ago, and they can be pretty tall.
  • The spirit of Bushido (the way of the warrior) is apparently very much alive and well in them, and they can be quite aggressive, even brutal, when the game gets going.
  • Playing cautiously on account of your larger bulk and delusions of superior physical prowess can put you in serious danger.
  • On the other hand, playing full out means you're liable to knock over if not plow through somebody, which will earn you a sound, feminine scolding at best and those insidious, feminine tears at worst.
  • The girls do not suffer the same limitation; they can crash and plow into each other...and into you...with impunity.
  • There is a very big difference between hauling heavy loads and running around at a full sprint for seven straight minutes trying to guard five much more maneuverable kids.
  • The gym floor is harder than you probably remember.
  • Muscles that haven't really been used much in ages like to complain.
  • Lungs that haven't really been used much in ages like to make you miserable.
  • Aerobic overload can and will make you dizzy.
  • Unlike you, 7th graders don't get tired.
  • Sweat-soaked clothing, particularly a dress shirt and slacks, does not dry very quickly in a humid environment, and it continues to smell bad for an extended period.
  • It's damned fun!

We wound up losing 14-16, but that was still better than my girls' 0-16 stomping in the first round. I think I got rid of a centimeter of waistline, too. Maybe I should do something like that more often.


  • Well you still had fun so why not! But I sure can't keep up with the kids either

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 1:15 AM  

  • You crazy fella! Well, at least you had fun :)

    By Blogger Olivia, at 1:41 AM  

  • So in addition to your other duties they are now giving you team sports?

    On the other hand, it may be good for you. I know I woldn't last.

    By Blogger Pa've, at 8:02 AM  

  • hehehehe..thats awesome,and trust me I know what you mean. Girls can be really really rough. I remember playing in high school basketball. We had a trick, if only merely touched by a girl we pretend to fall. Got us some penalty points and free shots:)

    By Blogger memo, at 10:41 AM  

  • Reading your list of lesson is already fun, minus the complaining muscles and misserable lungs.

    You might be decades ahead of them but I think they enjoyed it as much as you did. Maybe even more, seeing you suffer and all.

    By Blogger agus, at 12:11 PM  

  • K played basketball in Jr. High.

    You don't fool me though. Like the movie "White Men Can't Jump" you're just hustling them so you can play for big bucks.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 12:11 PM  

  • You play w/fire....

    I dunno, B-Ball has never much interested me as a sport -

    probably due to a REALLY FUN game in Jr High, when I made my one-and-only score in the wrong hoop, which meant I gave points to the other team...

    Evidently, there is something called "tipping the ball" (which I guess is two people jumping for the ball?), and somehow, that meant the teams had switched sides (in the middle of of a 20 minute game?!!).

    All I got was a 5 minute scream from my teammates "Didn't you see them TIP THE BALL!!" (which I honestly didn't know what the heck they were talking about) and everybody else, including the teacher, laughing and saying "what a idiot/dumbass/moron"

    I won't tell you about what happened in High School PE Powderpuff football, suffice to say Football seems to have even MORE Byzantine rules than B-ball!

    By Blogger ladybug, at 10:09 PM  

  • Are your muscles still aching? I remember bowling after not doing it for a year or so and had to suffer pains for a week. Sounds like you had fun. That's a good score.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 7:01 PM  

  • Ladybug - no wonder you turned to a life of crime...

    By Blogger Momo the Wonder Dog, at 6:35 PM  

  • you sure had an adventurous day :) I wonder how I'd feel since I occasionally smoke! I bet I would be out of the game within minutes.

    I'm sure the students loved the fact that you played with them. That's awesome.

    By Anonymous hashim, at 4:38 AM  

  • Swinebread and Olivia
    Oh, it was blast! It was a draining and painful blast, but a blast nonetheless!

    I probably shouldn't have lasted, either, but I lied to myself and did anyway.

    Just out of curiosity, do you think that girls are born with an innate talent for being demonic? ;-)

    The girls on my own team didn't seem too happy (since they wound up losing), but I sure attracted a lot of attention. I think the opposing team took particular pleasure in getting through my guard, too.

    No, I'm hustling them by pretending to be a teacher. ;-)

    That sounds like me whenever I try bowling!

    Actually, I've always been kind of sports-challenged. I was a fair runner, but my screwed-up legs got me doctor's orders to give it up. I was a good hitter when I went out for little league baseball (often the only member of my team that got a hit), but I could never throw straight. My center of gravity was all wrong for wrestling. I was too small for (American) football, too short for volleyball, too awkward for basketball, and too stiff (not to mention deformed)for gymnastics. I finally got to be good at soccer when I played in junior high, but I just got fed up with the whole attitude.

    I'll stick with music, thank you.

    I tried bowling for the first time in five years just a week ago. No sore muscles at all, believe it or not. Of course, I totally sucked, but at least I wasn't the lowest scorer in the match.

    Do you have a nose for crime?

    I admit I still smoke on occasion, too (about once a month). I was amazed I stayed with it as much as I did. I think it was just a triumph of the will. (Cue DEVO soundtrack)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:11 PM  

  • woah, never had any opportunity to play in a crowd like that before... lucky you...

    By Blogger Lrong, at 1:02 PM  

  • "The spirit of Bushido (the way of the warrior) is apparently very much alive and well in them, and they can be quite aggressive, even brutal, when the game gets going.

    My wife keeps trying to get me to go to Japan(if only for the Sushi). She's learned how to prepare sushi all on her own and we frequently frequent Japanese restaurants(there are plenty hereabouts).

    Now to the point you were making...Where is the whole thing about Bushido from? It's something that I find interesting and would like to look further into. Is it Budhist or does it have more to do with Japanese mythology or is it historical?

    Also, how much is sushi in Japan? Is it a lot more expensive than in the U.S. for example or is it about the same(because the wife wants to know and who'm I to deny her?;)

    By Blogger Eitan Ha'ahzari, at 7:34 PM  

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