The Little League World Series has just ended and Fall baseball has begun here in the south. Having 3 boys and an x-sports reporter husband, we know ALL about sports around here, and we participate in a few… but baseball is numero uno.
I will tell you that we have had our kids in recreational sports, travel leagues, and on school teams. My husband has been a team manager, assistant coach, and spectator. I have even subjected myself to the role of team mom, and, inadvertently learned how to keep a score book, which has resulted in a crippling dent to my sideline sociability. We all have run score boards, sold BBQ tickets, candy and coupons, and we all have done our time sweating to death in a concession booth.
Recreational sports programs are a unique, cult like experience. You have your super stars, and your not so super stars. The jersey number is sacred, and you know who’s there by the decals on the windows of the mini vans and SUV’s in the parking lot.. There’s plenty of nepotism and partiality. Every good ballpark has their share of screamers and cussers, as well as angry parents, and the down right, just plain bad, parents. Over the years, we have been pretty blessed with some awesome families on our teams… for the most part. I can tell you that many “player drafts” take the parents behavior and support into full consideration. No one wants the “banned” or trouble parent, even if their kid is a pretty good player.
The other day, our team was delayed for our field time, because a player in the game before ours lost his temper over a tough call. The player tried to hurt the umpire, then, once ejected from the game, and the park, his father hit him in the head which resulted in the boy returning the favor, but with his cleats – thus, the authorities were called. Really? We have seen players purposely trip, hit and push other players, to only be rewarded by their coach. Once, we even witnessed 2 coaches that were on the same team, get into a full blown fist fight in the dugout… in front of about 22 ten year olds and their families. I could write an entire blog just listing the awful behavior we have witnessed in the name of youth sports…
With all of that being said, having your children play recreational sports can be a very fun and rewarding experience. Seriously. Your kids can learn to be a team player and a friend. If your coach is good, the players will understand the actual game that they are playing. They may also realize that working hard can be fun, and they can hopefully learn to win with humbleness, and lose with dignity. Unfortunately though, the trend of prideful, out of control parents, kids, and coaches, is becoming more and more common. That is not fun or rewarding …for anyone.
I think that athletes are prejudicially exalted these days – even the kids from the Little League World Series have Fan Pages! Really? We were not created to be that elevated for a skill we may have, because it takes a lot more than skill to fulfill the responsibility of having Fans… it takes character. (don’t even get me started on the Pro Sports) 🙂
There are hundred’s of thousands of kids playing baseball all over the world today. Less than 1% will actually make it to the big leagues. With that in mind, lets put all of this into perspective… They are kids. The shaping of their character is far more important than how far they can hit a ball with a bat. Teach them to play, and give it their best, but let’s put sportsmanship first and skill second. Remember, it’s just a GAME that begins when the umpire yells, “PLAY ball!” Really.