ISN’T it about time a competitive dads tournament was introduced as a demonstration sport at the Olympics?
We’re not short of them here in the UK if my trip to a Center Parcs holiday park at the weekend was anything to go by.
Signing up with my two boys for what I thought would be a leisurely Lads ‘n’ Dads basketball challenge at the holiday park, turned into something more akin to The Somme, albeit with bibs and basketballs and not so many dead bodies or mustard gas.
Of course it takes one to know one. As the Ord household’s reigning Rock, Paper, Scissors champion (top tip: always go for rock first – kids instinctively go for the last word they hear) I know all about Competitive Dad Syndrome.
The little-understood condition was much in evidence on the theatre of dreams, Penrith.
Split into three teams of five-a-side each (two adults, three kids), the grown-ups proved, well, anything but.
In my naivety I assumed the aim of the game would be for the adults to get the ball to the children to let them score.
I mean, we were playing with plastic basketball nets that were set much lower to make life easier for the youngsters.
My one-two passing game with our eight-year-old son Isaac was cut short by one of the opposition dads intercepting the ball to breakaway and dunk a basket.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Within a minute the same dad had dispossessed my 11-year-old son and, after feinting to pass to his nine-year-old daughter, dribbled into the area to slam-dunk another. Was that a fist pump I saw?
I had to ask the referee if we were playing for a large purse of money.
“There’s always some who take it too seriously,” he replied.
I was to find out just how. In a bid to even things up, I took a pass from the other eight-year-old on my team and took a shot.
It was sailing in, only for competitive dad number two to put his hand over the basketball net to stop it going in.
I waited for him to give me a laugh and a wink. He didn’t. This was clearly no joke. They had to hold onto their lead.
We were off the court for the next game. I had the pleasure of being a spectator as the dads battled it out for supremacy.
I was as much a spectator as the children on the pitch, who continually found themselves grasping at air as 13 stones of sweaty man-flesh plucked the ball from their hands and thundered towards the basket. Having watched one dad dribble the length of the court before dumping the ball through the net on to the head of a bewildered young girl, I found myself up on my feet clapping sarcastically. “Brilliant,” I shouted. “You’re the best. Can you score another?”
I felt a tug at my shirt.
“If you don’t let it go I’m walking out of here.” It was the wife.
“It’s not me, it’s them.” I pleaded. She was having none of it.
From that point on I took it upon myself to be the self-appointed Dispenser of Justice (not the most catchy of titles, but time wasn’t on my side).
Like a man possessed I raced around passing to every child in sight, while trying to cut out any pass to an adult. My final act was the piece de resistance. As the clock ticked down, and with the scores level, I saw one of the dads collect the ball and race for goal.
He, naturally, ignored the pleas of the children for a pass (they’d only waste it) and bore down on the basket.
I was at the other end of the court and he had about two yards on me.
Scything through children’s outstretched arms he was within feet of the basket. Glory was his. His name would be etched in Center Parcs folklore. King Derek of Lads ‘n’ Dads Basketball.
Not on my watch.
I collided with him headfirst before he could get off the ground, sending us both sprawling across the court in a flapping mess of arms, legs and, unfortunately, a couple of unlucky kids. The ref blew for time, and possibly a medic.
Not my finest hour, but, most importantly, definitely not other dad’s.
Justice had been dispensed.
* Do you know someone suffering Competitive Dad Syndrome? Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best stories will be printed, and the dad’s suitably shamed.
* You can follow Richard Ord on Twitter. Just type in @DickyO and abuse away at your leisure.