When is the Right Time to Tell Your Children About Marshall Henderson?Posted by Christian D'Andrea on November 14th, 2013
Look, we can’t shelter our kids forever. It’s bound to happen. One day this spring, you’ll be sitting at the table, maybe drinking a cold Schlitz or preparing your tax return, and you’ll see it out the corner of your eye. A child speeds by, fingers fluttering from a palm stuck to their forehead, tongue darting out of their mouth. Multiple syllables, each half-forming a swear word before transforming into something else altogether streaming from his or her lungs. They create some kind of hybrid curse that the Roman Catholic Church will soon hold meetings to discuss. In the background, the scorched remains of what used to be the net of your backyard basketball hoop begin to float away in the wind. ”Landsharking,” they’ll call it. Just something they picked up on the playground, they will say. From friends, or maybe an older brother. But you know better. You know exactly where it came from.
The issue is no laughing matter. Landsharking ruins lives. Kevin Bright, the unfortunate forward in the background of the above picture, transferred back to Europe when not even his stoic German demeanor could conceal the pain of dealing with landsharking last year. La Salle adopted the move in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and after dispatching his Rebels, they promptly lost to Wichita State by 14 points. The only NCAA player man enough to wield the shark, it seems, is none other than Marshall Henderson himself.
That’s what makes him so dangerous for the most vulnerable Americans out there – the 9 to 13 year-olds who have devoted their lives to Ole Miss – or Utah, or Texas Tech, or South Plains College – basketball. These are the children who understand that a silky-smooth shooting form is best complemented by an unhinged glare and an attitude that counts every defensive move as a personal affront. Landsharking, when handled by a responsible adult, can be a powerful tool. For a child who doesn’t know how to use it properly, however, it can be a dangerous gateway into hardcourt clownship.
So when is the right time for a parent to bring up the Marshall Henderson talk with their children? And how do you breach the sensitive topic of Landsharking with a curious child on the brink of adulthood?
- Be honest with them. Being curious about Marshall Henderson is totally natural. I mean, have you seen his new homeless Beatle haircut? The way his tongue wags back and forth when he’s excoriating some helpless defender who chose not to cover him out to 30 feet? The man is the SEC’s peacock. His feathers are obscene shooting and even more obscene hand gestures. Looking away is almost impossible.
- Show them that there’s more to life than just three-point shooting. Sure, the three-ball may be Henderson’s modus operandi or the only possible way for Ole Miss to score points in 2013-14, but it’s only a piece of the college basketball puzzle. Fire up some clips of Jarvis Varnado’s shot-blocking at Mississippi State or some of Phil Pressey’s rambunctious passing from his days at Missouri to expand their interest in basketball as a whole. You know, the little things.
- Feed them a balanced diet that isn’t solely based on scorn. “But Dad,” your son might say, “Marshall Henderson doesn’t eat chicken. He feeds solely on the hatred of opposing student sections.” And that’s true. But children cannot live on hate alone. Feed your children a steady, balanced diet that adheres to the guidelines set by the food pyramid, and toss a couple of boos or derisive chants in on occasion when met with resistance. “But Dad,” your child may counter “Marshall Henderson doesn’t want to be fed hatred, he wants to hunt it.” Ignore this, because children are not yet ready to face boos in the wild.
- Tape their middle fingers to their index and ring fingers. Flipping off a crowd? No sir! Just giving the fans an old-fashioned Boy Scout salute.
- Sit back, and enjoy the ride. You know who isn’t worked up about Marshall Henderson? Ole Miss fans. Sure, they’re worried about his discipline problems, but once he’s on the court he’s one of the greatest Rebels to ever step foot in the Tad Pad. Henderson can go 0-of-20 in a game, but everyone still focuses on that 21st shot like it’s guaranteed to go in, even if it’s coming from half-court and surrounded by three defenders. Very few SEC athletes can stake that claim, and it’s because no one believes in Henderson like he believes in himself. Sure, it may manifest itself weirdly, but that confidence is one hell of a trait to grow from.
Marshall is a special case – a tornado of bravado, ability and bad decisions the likes of which haven’t been seen in the NCAA in decades. The Ole Miss guard is as compelling off the court as he is on it. If Jimmer Fredette had been a jerk, he would have been way more fun to watch. A little swagger can be a good thing.
That spirit of competition, confidence, and ignoring inner monologues can be a scary combination for an adolescent child trying to find his or her way on the basketball court. They’ll need your guidance as a parent to understand just how much Marshall Henderson lives inside them. So, be honest with your kids about Marshall Henderson. Explain to them how Landsharking is completely natural process, but how it can ruin lives, too. Make sure they know that it’s something that should only be done once you’re sure you’re ready. They’ll understand.
But maybe have them skip the live broadcast of Ole Miss at Kentucky, just in case.