The basket is much farther away than you remember, so to the Biddy Ball players, the rim might as well be the Matterhorn. Still, occasionally, one manages to get off a shot that actually goes in. Even more occasionally, in the right basket.
You know who you are. Soccer Mom. Diver Dad. Your calendar goes by the sport, not the season. Your refrigerator door is plastered with Post-its: If it's Wednesday it's softball; Thursday, crew. The pace is manic. Camps and clinics, wedged in between doubleheaders and travel squads. And, of course, equipment. Pads and shorts, shirts and sweats, tees . . . oh my, yes, tees. Mountains of them. You need a second mortgage, and then a third, just to keep up.
So, are we having fun yet?
If you live in the Strauss house, the answer appears to be in the affirmative. It's a wonder the family members have time to exhale, but there isn't much they haven't sampled. The roll call: Robert, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Ella and Sylvia, the daughters. A good portion of their peripatetic lives is chronicled, with loving care, in Daddy's Little Goalie: A Father, His Daughters, and Sports.
It is a love letter of sorts, but without the syrup and sap. And the tears. What separates it from the well-worn genre of fathers and offspring bonding is gender. The book sprang from one of those "Aha!" moments, this one when father and then 5-year-old daughter were watching a 76ers game, and Ella asked: "Daddy, why is it that only boys play sports?"
Ella was soon asleep. Daddy was haunted by what was an innocent-enough question, his generation having grown up in the 1950s and 1960s, when "girls really didn't play sports - at least not with us."
All that changed with the passage, in the early 1970s, of Title IX. Girls became eligible for sports scholarships. Girls, it turns out, could play. They had serious game. Ella and Sylvia picked a most fortuitous time to get born.
So then, buckle up and off we go, the Strauss Family Robinson, with Haddonfield as home base. There is no worry about idle hands and the devil's workshop in this household, because there is always a game, a meet, a match, a practice, something.
A cynic, tsk-tsk, sneers: "You can't live through your kids."
And the Strauss rebuttal is that self-deprecating standby of the parents of youth athletes: "Then why do you have them?"
But aren't there times when it smacks of, well, doting?
That would seem to be inescapable. And that's when you go to the bullpen and summon the masters of doting - grandparents.
(Full disclosure: I have been through two generations and learned during the first one that I could be an unemotional, totally objective stoic. Then, when my grandsons came along and there were wrestling meets to attend, I learned that lurking just beneath the surface was a raving, slobbering lunatic. You want world-class doting, you call a grandparent.)
Strauss himself frequently assures the reader that as an athlete, he made a good manager, or scorekeeper, or statistician. He says he has played pickup basketball four or five times a week for most of the last 30 years. And?
"I am usually the worst guy on any court."
A laudable confession.
He writes: "It is no secret that these days, many of the dads whose daughters are good at sports were adequate at best, two-left-footed more often than not. Most of us, though, were passionate about sports, which, in my case at least, got us to push our daughters when they chose to be athletes to be the best they could."
Strauss adds that sports isn't "the only venue for a father-daughter relationship, or even the best venue. It just was our venue. It gave us something to be together at, to talk about, to laugh about.
"We had something previous generations of girls and their dads, at least on a mass basis, didn't have. My girls were of the first generation to take sports as a given."
He worries, though, about what he may have done. Or not done. And he wonders this to a fellow basketball player, a high school counselor, who asks him: "You went to every game she played, right?"
" 'Just about,' I answered, almost embarrassed at the thought.
" 'You couldn't have communicated better, just being there. She knows what you think. You don't have to say a word anymore. You'll always be in the stands.' "
OK, so maybe just one tear.
Bill Lyon is a retired Inquirer sports columnist.