If only it was a woman’s world
The coach had on a T-shirt that read “Bump, Set, Spike” and seemed to be the one primarily responsible for the volleyball juggernaut that is Seven Hills School. I say juggernaut because it was clear that the seventh- and eighth-grade girls who play volleyball at that Nevada City school really know how to bump, set and spike extraordinarily well, which is why there were so many championship banners hanging from the gym walls.
As a baseball, football and basketball fan, I never thought I’d be spending a weekend watching middle school girls’ volleyball. I couldn’t bump, set, or spike even on a dance floor. Last time I tried, I pulled something.
But my daughter plays, and if you’re going to be any kind of dad, you go to volleyball games and act as if you’d rather be there than anywhere else on Earth.
The thing you notice first is that the girls really root for one another. I mean really root. They hug, they high-five, they cheer wildly from the bench, and when they get a particularly good bump, set, or spike, they actually have a choreographed routine they chant and dance to. I’d explain it, but it’s too complicated, which is why boys don’t do it.
Take an ace, for example. An ace is when you serve the ball and the other team can’t return it. When that happens, you yell, “A-C-E, ACE!” while touching opposite feet, and clapping. If you’re not in shape, you can only hope that your server is not very good. Otherwise, you’ll fall down and someone will have to chant, “9-1-1!”
There were other chants and rituals, but I was too busy trying to figure out the referee’s signals.
Most fathers I saw were having the same problem. One dad was yelling at the 14-year-old referee to try to get her to explain what was happening. The coach from Seven Hills interceded and for the next 30 minutes talked the dad through an entire game, showing him the various hand signals and what they meant.
Unfortunately, none of that helped the dad’s daughter’s team, which lost all but one game during the two-day tournament. I felt his pain because my daughter is his daughter’s teammate.
I bring this up to point out a major gender difference. Girls and women tend to be much more encouraging, compassionate, expressive and communicative than boys or men. Which makes you instantly wonder why there aren’t more women leaders in the world.
I know … “Jeff, you shouldn’t have read the Da Vinci Code.” But a female friend talked me into it and … well … let’s just say it made me wonder if this world of ours wouldn’t be a heck of a lot better with a little more feminine compassion, encouragement, expressiveness and communication.
Machismo gets in the way of all that. I know that firsthand. I hate losing, and I generally speak in short sentences. Much like I write. Although some guys like to pat a teammate on the behind after a particularly good effort, I tend to shy away from that kind of intimacy. People talk, and before you know it, there are rumors about your propensity for patting behinds.
Better not to show your emotions. Keep them bottled up until you eventually blow up and get jailed.
The girls on the volleyball court, who will soon be a new generation of Nevada County women, seemed to have things in the right perspective. Following one match, a couple of girls from opposite teams embraced and started discussing plans for a dance later that evening.
“Love your hair,” said one.
“Oh, really?” said the other. “I decided to change it. …”
There was no mention of the match that had concluded just moments earlier.
No fist fights. No bad-mouthing. No parents getting in each other’s faces. No bats being used as clubs, as was the case last week, when a young baseball player killed another young boy for taunting him after a game.
There also seems to be a real sense of “sisterhood” among women. When one woman asks another how she feels, she means it. She really wants to know. I’ve seen that firsthand around the Ackerman House as my wife has been going through her own bumps and spikes.
It’s not as if men aren’t just as empathetic. We care sometimes. We just don’t express it very well. Mostly because we can’t hear too well, and our tongues are fatter than a woman’s tongue, which makes it harder to speak.
“Good. Howsit going with you?”
See? Short and sweet.
The same conversation between two women, on the other hand, might go something like this:
“How are you?” says one, reaching out for an embrace and a kiss on the cheeks.
“Oh … you wouldn’t believe,” replies the other, grabbing her friend’s arm and directing her toward a chair.
Some 20 minutes later, they are swapping Hallmark cards with two pages filled with best wishes.
This world could use more of that. Especially when it comes to international diplomacy. Imagine if every world leader was a woman. The president of the U.S. calls the president of North Korea to ask if she wouldn’t mind putting the nukes away.
“Okay,” says North Korea. “But you’ve got to promise to tell me where you bought that dress. It’s to die for.”
And all of those male clerics in the Middle East? Get out of the robes and let the women take over. You’ve had 2,000 years to fix things, and it’s just getting worse. Maybe we could have avoided this mess by replacing Shock and Awe with Tea and Muffins, Perhaps Saddam’s Mother of All Wars could have been avoided by a Mother of all Mothers.
As much as I love being a man, there are lessons to be learned from our volleyball-playing daughters.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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