I wrote last month (here) about the National Academic League in which my son is involved. My son’s team performed spectacularly throughout the season until the final game. You see this same kind of thing in sports.
My son’s 7-0 team was matched up with a team that was 3-3 (having had a by). My son’s team didn’t take the game seriously. It was their final game of the regular season and they were matched up against a push-over team, so they were in a festive mood. However, they ended up losing 57-53. The other team was hot and my son’s team was not.
Still, at 7-1 they ended up being tied for first place in the district. It was quite surprising to see which team they ended up competing against in the playoffs. They had been sure they would be up against their arch rival, a team they had beat by only one slim point. But they ended up competing against a team they had beat soundly by 10 points. That team had beat their arch rival (which was considered to be a very good team) by 20 points. It was difficult to understand how this could happen.
That is, it was difficult until the playoff game this afternoon. My son’s team played fairly well. However, the opposing team had one very hot player, an extremely quick and smart young man that had not played so well in the regular season game. This boy garnered a full one-third of the team’s 70 points. I don’t know how that team would survive without that one player. It was as if he knew everything and was very fast on the buzzer. My son’s team went down to a convincing 20-point defeat. Ouch. I think my son's team will have a new arch rival going into next year.
I was very proud of how well my son played, although, he wasn’t able to tell the name of the U.S. governmental department that deals with finances. In a way, I must admit that I’m relieved that it’s all over. For one thing, it’s healthy for kids to learn how to deal with disappointment and defeat. Real life is filled with those elements. For another thing, this will free up the 90 minutes my son spent at practice each day after school. It’s very beneficial, but it’s a serious time commitment.
The winning team will now go to the national playoffs. Location is not important in this activity. At the national level, games are played at a local school over a video link (something you can’t do with football). There is no travel involved, so competing teams may come from anywhere in the nation.
I highly endorse NAL. It provides a competitive outlet for academic and communication skills. As with sports, it develops speed, strategy, discipline, and competitive psychology. But unlike sports, it focuses on mental rather than physical skills. (I’ve never seen a player hauled off the field with an injury.) And it is a lot of fun.