Written by Bess Kercher
It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game, right? That's what local mom and writer Bess Kercher keeps telling herself as she navigates the world of team sports with her two sons leading the charge. Find out how a non-athletic mom uses sports to better understand the game of life in this fun series, ‘Team Mom.’
Check out Kercher's previous 'Team Mom' postsMeet the Team Mom
, andPlay Your Position
Last year an ill-timed family vacation caused my son to miss the photo shoot for his team picture. He was not a happy camper. I suppose that in the age of the selfie and the Internet it feels like if it’s not recorded for all to see (and comment upon), then it is like it never happened.
Was the team photo always such a big deal?
They certainly have been around forever. Ones posted by my peers on “Throwback Thursdays” feature tall striped socks and too short shorts and too long hair that peeks out from underneath large-billed baseball caps. (The hair thing seems to have come back around . . . Note to self: get the boys to Sports Clips ASAP).
So this year we made sure there were no conflicts with my son’s picture day. He got suited up, we met the team out at the field, and I made my way to the table to place my picture order.
There was once a time when you just had to decide if you wanted a team picture and maybe an individual picture, and how many you needed (They make great wallet options for the grandparents. For some reason our regular school pictures tend to look a little deranged, like head shots the boys produced while auditioning for a low budget horror flick. We have stopped passing those out).
When I glanced at the order form my choices included those old familiar team and individual options . . . and also trading cards, action photos, magnets, and posters – all featuring multiple layout designs and shading and other artistic choices.
You may think this was intimidating or otherwise off-putting, but no. Finally! Something that I understand. Many moms have to negotiate similar terrain for their family teams . . . with the sometimes dreaded and equally celebrated family Christmas/Holiday card.
Every year we either dress out for a special team photo or search the archives for a picture or series of pictures that will accurately reflect the spirit of our team and the experience of our last season. Thankfully, we often utilize the expertise of superstar professionals in this adventure. But the amateurs first have to make several calls to get the process started.
Our first decision is whether the picture will be a full group option with coaches included, or one that only features the individual players. Every year I make the argument that the reason I had kids was so that I could be excused from having my fat face on the annual card. My kids think I have said I want my own Fathead wall decal, which adds a whole other dimension of desperation to my preference not to be photographed.
There is the style of the card, which sets the tone. If you include multiple small pictures you can feature numerous highlights of the year, but it’s hard to see any of it in any great detail. Especially if the recipients of the card are in the coach’s age bracket and have misplaced their readers (again) so that everything just looks like assorted blocks of color, a Sports Illustrated-inspired Picasso.
I prefer the close-up, single picture of the boys, an option that lifts one single moment up with extreme clarity. It utilizes the crispness of the trading card but with double the punch, featuring both players equally. I am now picturing my boys throwing a punch and then attempting to trade each other off the family team. Not exactly in keeping with the Christmas spirit, but maybe we will be in better form in a couple of months.
My husband is a fan of the Memory Maker style, where a strong team photo is flanked by individual pics of the boys. I can see the appeal. But it is always a challenge to find a group photo where everyone looks good. Sometimes you have to let go of your own vanity and take one for the team in these situations, like when we chose our family photo for the church directory.
The picture in which everyone else looked like models was the one where I looked like I was bravely enduring secret electroshock therapy – while having my picture taken – all wide eyes and clenched, frozen smile. Even with my disturbing expression I decided it was best just to go with it and move on; plus, given the usual circus that erupts when the family attempts to get dressed up and ready for church on time, it is probable that is what I look like most Sundays anyway.
There is some pain and suffering involved with the annual card, but like the sports world has informed me, no pain no gain. The reason why I continue to do our card year after year is because I really do enjoy getting them from other people. It is incredible to see how much all of the kids have grown; it feels like yesterday when their cards featured chubby baby faces and impossibly small fingers and feet, snuggled in holiday-themed onesies and baby blankets.
Perhaps I am making this too complicated than it needs to be.
Maybe, like many other holiday-related choices, the best idea is to go back to the good old days and keep it simple and straightforward. One of my favorite holiday cards ever was inspired by my brief stint playing for a team (luckily, it appears the bruising and swelling had subsided before this was taken). For capturing the spirit of both sports and family, I would put this classic right into the Christmas card Hall of Fame.
Bess Kercher, M.A. lives in Charlotte with her husband and two sons. When she's not coaching, refereeing, or cheering at Kercher Field, Bess is a writerwhose interests include the social construction of personal identity, especially concerning women in the internet age. Her website hosts a collection of her stories and blogs and can be found at www.maemucho.com.