Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How watching the Nationals with 105 8th graders from Uruguay and Franceis a lot like Hell

Last night, I went with our 8th graders and their pals from Uruguay and France. I learned that there is no such thing as a free baseball game. We were way up in the cheap seats and the kids were free to head to the concession stand as long as they took 2 buddies and had money. I figured that I would get a chance to watch the game and maybe explain parts of the game to some of the students.

However, it didn't go down like that. It was like Hell. The part that felt like Hell was the inability to explain something I cared so much for to anyone else. I tried on several occasions to speak with some of the students from France about baseball. However, we couldn't communicate. They didn't know enough English to understand even the most basic vocabulary. They weren't familiar with even the most basic of rules. I tried and tried to explain why runners were out, why the pitchers were being relieved, what happened when the shortstop missed 2nd base during an easy double play. I got nothing through to them.

Since Hell will be without any good thing, I imagine my experience last night is a lot like being in Hell. The souls there will be passionate about something (their own experience and importance, probably), but won't be able to communicate it to anyone. It will be amazingly lonely. It will be frustrating.

Additionally, I played jail warden for 2 1/2 hours. The kids weren't interested in sitting in their seats in 40 degrees weather with 30 mile an hour winds. They were interested in cotton candy and hot chocolate. They were interested in running around the concourses. They were interested in spending the $40 their parents gave them on souvenirs and Nationals memorabilia.

Of course, in loco parentis and general manners meant that the adults were in charge of keeping a lid on the activity. So while I was near the game and the action, in my sports temple, if you will, I couldn't enjoy it. I missed several key moments because I was turned to face the kids and not the game. I had to yell at kids to sit down, when it was perfectly reasonable to stand because the seats were freezing. I was forced to tell kids they couldn't go the bathroom even when it was obvious that is exactly where they were headed. So rather then enjoy something with folks I enjoy, I was tantalizing close to something I enjoy, but couldn't watch it. Rather then enjoy time with kids that make me laugh, I had to be an enforcer and do what I could to take some of their enjoyment from the game.