Deny! Deny! Deny!

January 27th, 2010

My second son used to play on a basketball team that had a coach that constantly yelled, “Deny!  Deny!  Deny!”  I am not a sports fan, nor even remotely sports literate, however having four sons has made me at least understand the difference between defense and offense as well as which town’s concession stand serves the best nachos.  During the time that Ethan played on that team, I slowly came to understand that ‘Deny!  Deny!  Deny!’  had something to do with playing good defense and was not a forceful encouragement to get my child and his teammates to tell a string of vicious lies.

Over time, I have absorbed a few other words and phrases and sometimes I can actually figure out the vaguely correct time to yell them.  And so strangely, a few days ago, at a freezing cold gym in St. Mary’s Kansas, I found myself yelling towards a group of boys skirmishing underneath the basket, “Block Them Out!  Block Them Out!”

I kind of understand what ‘Block Them Out’ means – but no… not really.  I just know that there are certain times in the game when you yell ‘Block Them Out’ because I have heard other parents and a few coaches yell, “Block them out!”  I told my boys about what I yelled when I got home.

Me – I yelled ‘Block Them Out’ at the game tonight.

Son – You did?

Me – Yes.  I hope I yelled it at the right time.

Son – Were we on defense?

Me – Yes… I think so…

Son – Just try and make sure we are on defense when you yell it – okay?

Me – Okay…  Hey…when can I yell ‘Deny!  Deny!  Deny!’

Son – Never.

Me – Okay.  



This weekend I went to my youngest son Jack’s game.  He is eight and plays in a local recreation league and even though I hardly know any of the rules in basketball, I can recognize ‘traveling’ when I see it as well as the cute rotating arm motion that the referee has to make to signal a traveling foul… or uh… a traveling mistake… or a traveling error… or whatever you call it.  On Jack’s team the kids pretty much ‘travel’ all over the place and it never gets called because if it did, the kids would never make it past the half court line.   In fact, there is so much ‘traveling’ going on, that I think even I could play on that team as running around with a basketball in your hands doesn’t seem to require too much cheetah like athleticism.  At Jack’s game I mostly just yell one thing, the ubiquitious basketball phrase – “Put your hands up!”  

“Put your hands up!”

“Put your hands up!”

“Put your hands up guys!”

“Get them up!”

“Get those hands up!”

“Get them up in the air boys!”


When you start thinking about some of these things you yell at a basketball game it starts to sound like something distinctly criminal is going on.

“Deny!  Deny! Deny!”

“Block Them Out!”

“Put Your Hands Up!  Up!  Get Them Up!”

“Steal it!  Steal it!  Steal the Ball!”

“Take it away!  TAKE IT AWAY!”

“Deny!  Deny!  Deny!”



Today, when I was driving Jack home from his game my eldest son made an announcement.  

Cal – “Mom – could you please not sit right behind the team at my game tomorrow?”

Me – What?

Cal – Could you PLEASE NOT SIT right behind the team at tomorrow’s game.

Me – Why?

Cal – Just don’t sit there!

Me – But why?  You have to give me a reason.  

Cal – Just don’t sit there.  

Me – But WHY?  Why can’t I sit there?

Cal – Just don’t!

Me – Can you give me a reason?

Cal – Because I just don’t want you to!

Me – But why?

Cal – I just don’t!

Me – I need a reason!

Cal – Just don’t sit there!

This conversations went on like this for longer than is remotely sane.  I got irritated pretty quickly.  If he could come up with a reason why I shouldn’t sit behind the team, I would consider it, but just being told not to sit there by my punkish fourteen year old is really not enough for me.  I started to wonder if it was just general ‘mom proximity’ or ‘mom cooties’ or ‘mom laser beams’ that was bothering him, which only served to further hack me off.  I am a very quiet at the games.  If I yell anything, it is usually just general encouragement or my latest phrase ‘Block Them Out’ which I only try if I feel super confident.  If my son is asking me to sit further away from the team because he is embarrassed by me, then he can just stick it.  I have zero intention of copping to that bit of silliness.  

Later that night, I told Mike about this conversation.  

Me – Calder doesn’t want me to sit behind him at the games.

CD – Uhuh.

Me – I got upset about it, because I think it is ridiculous for him to be embarrassed just because I am sitting behind the team.

CD – I don’t want to sit behind the team either.

Me – Why?

CD – Because, people who sit right behind the team are trying to second guess the coach and generally are attempting to influence the game.

Me – What?

CD – People who sit right behind the team are kind of like bullies.  They want to hear what the coach says, and they want to yell things to sort of attempt to have some control of the game.

Me – But I don’t do that!  I don’t even CARE about the game!

CD – I know that, but Calder probably thinks that you are making the coach paranoid.

Me – But I’m not!  I don’t even understand basketball.  I don’t even want to be there at all!  I wish all of my sons were deeply interested in ballet or tap dancing or live theater!  I don’t even like sports!

CD – I know.  But you are sitting in the spot reserved for the parent bullies.

Me – Why couldn’t Calder have told me that?

CD – It is kind of hard to explain it.

Me – That’s because it doesn’t make any sense.

CD – It doesn’t make any sense for you, but for other people, for sports people it does.  I’m with Calder on this one.  Don’t sit behind the team.

Me – Oh alright!  … So when can I yell “Deny!  Deny!  Deny!”

CD – Never.