Actually, I was dutifully prepared to write today’s blog last night, however, as too often happens, life intruded. My plan was to attend my son’s last home basketball game, participate in the eighth grade recognition ceremony and be home and writing by 6. As it turned out, between the corsage donning, the procession of honored eighth graders and the two genetic pools from which they sprang, and, of course, the calling of the Penn Hills police for the forcible removal of one of the opposing team's parents, we didn't even get home until after 9.
Good news though, as of last evening, the St Bart basketball parents (us)are no longer the most pugnacious group of ruffians in the diocese (east section). That honor was earned, unequivocally, by the Word of God parents (Swissvale).
Here's the scoop:
Right before half time of a game that since the tip-off had been getting progressively more "physical," there was an especially violent throw down of a Word of God player by one of our guys (not my son) that was not called as a foul. However, when the Word of God kid got up, he angrily threw the ball and cursed the ref and received a technical at which point some of the St Bart parents tried to assist the refs by suggesting that the offending Word of God player might benefit from a respite on the bench for the remainder of the competition. One of the Word of God parents was loudly objecting to the technical and was expressing how profoundly irritated he was at the St Bart's parents attempts to assist in the meting out of justice. Our pastor, Father Tom was there, sitting courtside, in front of the Word of God parents. He stood up and turned around (flashing the old roman collar) and asked everyone to just calm down, try to remember we are Christians and that this is a child's game... he looked much like Jesus must have when calming the stormy waters, except for the Steeler jacket and, of course, for the roiling waters yelling back: "Shut up and sit down, Father!"
At this point our coach, Jeff, recognizes the Word of God parent who is yelling at the priest as his arch enemy from his boyhood in Swissvale. Jeff knows this guy would have no qualms punching the priest right in the face, (he ain't afraid of no padres). So, Jeff runs across the gym and starts yelling at this guy. The guy comes out of the stands. Jeff is soon joined by a group of St Bart's Dads, which brings out a bunch of Word of God Dads and there's a tussle. The melee backs up against the stage where most of the St Bart student body is sitting. My husband, Bill, and another one of the St Bart's Dads start yelling for all the kids to leave the gym and go to the locker rooms*. This results in a running exodus across the length of the gym floor of about 50 kids, most of them in basketball uniforms.
The group of yelling-pushing-Dads leaves the gym and continue their "discussion" in the lobby. Jeff, our coach, has taken up a position as guard outside the locker room where his team is now ensconced. He, because of his history with the Word of God Dad, has backed out of the fight. St Bart Dads are demanding the priest-disrespecting-Word-of-God Dad leave the premises, and if he's smart (which he probably isn't) he'll get going before the Penn Hills cops show up. Word of God Dad backs up like he's going to concede the field, but alert St Bart Dad (and offensive coach of the St Bart Bruins, the 2006 diocese football champs) JP Marelli sees that Word of God Dad is actually winding it up to take a swing at locker room guard Jeff and Marelli executes an open field tackle on Word of God Dad. Wham, down onto the terrazzo! With JP Marelli's forearm across his neck, and the rest of JP Marelli (not small amount of matter) draped across his body, Word of God Dad decides it is indeed time to go.
Half time is over. Our team returns to the court, Father Tom holds an impromptu prayer session with the players. He does not invite the Word of God players to join the prayer circle.
Beginning of the fourth quarter, the 50/50 is announced and bestowed upon a Word of God parent without incident. (Though Bill does mention that the proceeds of the 50/50 from the girl's game earlier was donated back to the school, just saying...)
St Bart dominates and, rather than take out the starters and put in the 7th graders which is customary in this situation, the coach Jeff decides to beat Word of God like a rented mule. The refs try to control the "physicality" of the game by calling every foul real or imagined, and the game drags on and on. Finally, it is over.
Word of God and St Bart parents mingle uneasily and head for the parking lot, which is now under the watchful eye of four Penn Hills policemen and two cop cars. The Word of God coach is furious at the shellacking his team received and decides to express his displeasure with a reckless backing up maneuver and hits one of the Penn Hills cop cars. D'oh!
Well...after all this excitement I was too bushed to write my blog but couldn’t resist recounting this real life drama.