Sports: We do it for The Kids!

02.6.12


The Little League in our neighborhood is for parents too. There are moms and dads who spend a lot of time on the fields or hanging out with other parents. So much time that they’ve brought in televisions so that they can enjoy full days at the snack bar with their friends.

Baseball is everything for a lot of parents.

Baseball was everything for my son. He’s a decent player, not the best, and certainly not the worst. There are divisions by age set up but players can “play up” or “play down”. There’s a live draft and a group of fathers who are building up their summer travel teams… sort of cart before the horse. They don’t take the spring season seriously, they’re just building super teams so that they can spend the summers together playing baseball. Ooops, I mean their sons will play baseball. Freudian slip one can only suppose.

Alexander is playing down this year. Based on skill it makes little sense. Based on Little League politics it makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately in addition to playing down he’s on a team where some other kids are playing up. So he’s ten and playing with eight year olds.

He doesn’t want to go to practice this afternoon. I can’t say I blame him but I’m trying to put on a happy face for him. None of his friends are even playing in his division and it feels like Alexander’s been punished by a groups of fathers who make the Mean Girls look dainty.

Part of me wants to shame them but the better part of me knows that it’s probably for the best. It’s unlikely that Alexander will last through the season there, and if he wants to quit I’ll likely let him. I don’t like the idea of kids quitting anything, but I detest the idea of grown men ruining a great game for kids because their horrible egos got in the way. We’re looking at adding two tennis lessons a week and if he does quit baseball he can add a third or possibly a fourth.

I can say with absolute and complete honesty that I despise these men that take a child’s game and turn it into a power play for themselves. I’m not sure what went wrong for them in their lives that they’re unable to think of other people’s children.

I do think that when Alexander gets over this hump of dejection that it will be positive. It’s not like they play baseball at country clubs, right?

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19 responses to “Sports: We do it for The Kids!”

  1. “I can say with absolute and complete honesty that I despise these men
    that take a child’s game and turn it into a power play for themselves.”

    Oh I hear you, Jess.  Probably some moms are guilty, too.  I despise grown-ups who don’t consider what’s best for the child first – theirs and anyone else’s.  We’re supposed to be SETTING EXAMPLES.  We had our chance to play ball.  Now let the kids.

    Hope it all works out for Alexander as it should.

     

  2. Brandy says:

    I am new to having a son in sports, he is going to play T-Ball this year, I haven’t ever heard of such a situation. I would not be happy either. Big hugs that this ends up a positive situation overall.

  3. Anne says:

    This happened to my son too, it broke my heart 2 years ago because he was 11 and playing with 8 year olds, while 10 year olds were playing in the league above him.  He isn’t great, but he’s not that bad!  We aren’t “connected” though, so that is how it went.  He loves baseball so much he stuck it out, and last year they had to put him in the higher league because 12 year olds can’t play down.  He enjoyed it so much more last year it was amazing.  Aside from not being with his friends the maturity level of the young players is so different between 8 and 11.  Hope it works out for your son.

  4. Lori Falcon says:

    I absolutely get this post and agree with it.  I do want to share my thoughts though….

    We’ve never allowed our kids to quit anything they started, no matter how much they hate the coach (and yes, we are having one of those years).  Instead, I tell them that it’s a lesson.  They will deal with ‘politics’ and those kinds of people their whole life so make the best of it.  I tell them that no matter if they are starter or second string, losing or winning, to play with their heart and give it their all because people will remember how they acted, how they played because it will only make them a better person, stronger, and more capable of handling those types of situations in the future.

    I hope for the best for y’all!!! 

    • Jsnelson926 says:

      Yes.. the children will have to deal with “those people” their whole lives.  However, when you are an adult you can excuse yourself from the situation, quit a crappy job, or do business with someone else.  Obviously, we all need to learn tolerance.. but if any of my children felt strongly that a teacher, coach, or friend was not treating them fairly or right.. I would allow them to bow out of the situation. 
       By “never” allowing your child to quit even if he/she “hates the coach” you may not be taking in the full picture.  It frightens me a little when parents have this ‘all or nothing’ attitude.  Every situation is different and sometimes, the best thing.. is to quit.

    • Lori,

      I’d like to offer a different perspective, just my opinion.  If I was brought up to never quit, regardless of how much the circumstance is unhealthy for me otherwise, I’d have been stuck in a dead-end job my entire life. I’d never have given valid weight to the notion that sometimes we need to move on, that we deserve to be treated with more respect, and allowed to find a place where opportunity exists based on our uniqueness as a human. 

      As much as children need to learn they can’t have everything their way, that it’s critical to learn how to live in a world where others are in charge, I’d never want a child to have to have their own intuitive understanding suppressed indefinitely.  To me, that’s called cruelty.

      From a more esoteric perspective, it’s only when I’ve eventually moved on at various situations, that I’ve learned how to start manifesting more of what I do want in my experiences.  That in turn has led me to greater and greater success in life. 

      • Lori Falcon says:

         I would never ever let anyone be cruel to my kids.  Yes, we are hard parents but you can ask anyone around here, we’ve got some of the hardest working, well mannered good kids who know what they want and how to deal with the bad.  They are independent, strong, and much more mature than their friends.  Maybe our hardness combined with our other parenting skills have done that but I do believe we are doing right by them. 

        I let them read this post and comments and they definitely understood them all but said they are happy that we made them follow through.

        Any parent or teacher that was asshole to my kid would deal with me.  Coaches are hard on kids, that’s a fact but cruelty of any kind…well that’s another. ;)

        Like I said, I do agree with what everyone has said.  Only shared my opinion on how we’ve raised our kids, who are 18, 15 and 5. 

        • Jsnelson926 says:

          Lori.. Way to Go! You have the superior kids in your neighborhood.  I would be careful patting yourself on the back too aggressively though.  Children are interesting creatures.  I’ve noticed that all of mine are quite different – even though the parenting has been the same. You are probably a great person and a wonderful mom.. but having an attitude that your parenting is better than others is a slippery slope.  You don’t know what lies ahead.  All children are unique.  Try not to judge.  

  5. Cat Davis says:

    This stuff drives me absolutely insane. And to think I thought the dads out on the football sidelines screaming at their kids during practice were the worst of the bunch. Sports at this age are suppose to be about FUN FOR THE KIDS and a little competition.

  6. Mama Bub says:

    We’re starting t-ball this year, and this is what I’m most afraid of. I’m afraid of fathers yelling at FOUR year olds who aren’t trying hard enough. I’m even more afraid of what comes next, of fostering a love for the sport and having to be the buffer between those who will break his spirit. That’s so melodramatic, but I’m fully prepared to walk away when it’s no fun for any of us anymore.

  7. Mrs. Wonder says:

    After hearing about Little League politics from a friend who was a coach and my husband who played through high school, I am a little scared.
    But that’s why I will try to keep him away from soccer too. I heard worse things about those parents.
    I’m sorry the fathers are taking the joy out of the game. Especially if your son decides to leave, I would write a formal letter and get it as high as it could go.

  8. The JackB says:

    I just dropped my daughter off at basketball practice. Two of the moms were standing outside the gym talking about how much it would cost to hire a private coach for their girls.

    They have a plan. They think that if they push the girls and give them a little extra something they’ll better players and that maybe it will help them get into college.

    If nothing else they expect it will help them get into better private schools.. Our girls are going to turn 8 this year. They are in the second semester of second grade.

    I try not to talk to these moms because I have nothing nice to say to them and  this sort of nonsense is a big part of it.  They devote copious amounts of energy into competing about everything and everyone.

  9. Jamie says:

    We just went through something similar with my daughter’s competitive soccer team.  We had tryouts – 15 girls, came all made team.  Second day – 5 tried out….two days later EVERY one took their girls to other clubs and never told us.  My daughter was left with no team – parents all would not tell us – too competitive.  I have sat on a “post” for awhile, too bitter to post actually.  Parents that take over a sport at all – suck.  They either live vicariously through their children or think their child is next Olympian/Full ride scholarship to UCLA (ya that is a quote).  Do what is best for your son…

  10. Alan Wolk says:

    Hi Jessica – long time no speak – hope all is well.

    I wanted to offer a different perspective: I coached Little League for the past six years and basketball on and off for the past 8. 

    Little League in particular was incredibly fulfilling because our town runs a “chain” system (sounds like yours does too) and I was able to see most of the kids go from 2nd grade through 6th or 7th. The first year was the best, watching the kids who’d never held a baseball before figure out what they were doing and get their confidence up.

    We has one season where we won every game and one where we lost every game. Neither was as much fun as when we were somewhere in the middle. But regardless, the main thing the kids cared about was the snack bar. Ten losses in a row and as soon as they knew the ice pop was coming, they’d forget about the result.

    There were parents who were difficult, coaches on other teams (and ours) who got carried away, but I’d say 98% of the time they were yelling at each other and not the kids. (They’d sometimes yell at the umpires too, but that almost always got everyone else, from both teams, reminding the offender that the umpires were high school students, not professional umpires.)

    Maybe I got lucky, but I found the parents to be generally helpful, whether it was making the kids pick up balls after batting practice or bringing us coffee on cold March mornings. (And yeah, the ones who complained the loudest were always the ones who were the last to lift a finger to help out… and pretended to look the other way when their kids were acting up so that we’d have to deal with it)

    The coaches job is a fine balancing act – you want every kid to participate and have fun, but at the same time winning is more fun than losing. And you have some kids (like mine) who are very serious and treat every game as if it were the World Series and others who are only there because their parents made them and aren’t always 100% focused.

    Practices are tough: the kids are overscheduled enough to begin with and on a Friday afternoon it’s hard to keep even the serious kids focused. On the other hand, on warm spring days when everyone was into it, there was nothing I’d rather be doing and we’d wind up staying and extra half hour because none of the kids wanted to leave.

    Finally, politics are inevitable. We have summer travel teams too, with the added complication that a good percentage of the kids in town go to sleepaway camp and so the pool is considerably smaller. The year we lost every game, we kept a couple of older kids on the team rather than swap them for younger kids who were better players. Looking back, I’m glad we did: they kept their self-esteem and left with good memories of baseball. The younger kids got to “play up” the following year.

    If your son likes playing baseball, push him to stick with it- next year will be better. But if he’d rather not be there, extra tennis lessons are a great idea.

  11. When my kids were little I made a decision that I was only going to support activities that they could continue over a life time like tennis, golf, swimming. Needless to say that ended with their desire to play softball which a national sport in out small town…oh yes there was politics…there were tryouts but if you could not make tryouts you were picked by coaches that already knew what kind of player you were.  That would usually be a team heavy with good players who were encouraged not to go to tryouts so that new coaches would not see how they played and would therefore not choose them. I could go on but it taught kids that you can always figure out a way to get what you want if you are devious enough…
    The games were another story…parents were good and bad at them…it was taken too seriously…I totally preferred tennis matches, swimming meets. I understand what you are going through. This is a lesson in life is not fair but it can still be good…more tennis lessons sound like a great idea. I am right there with you in the frustration.

  12. […] coach than there has been with others there was just a manner that made it joyful. So basically baseball has been saved. Alexander has amazing team coaches, he’s umpiring (and earning a few dollars doing it) and […]

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