(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


Not much to tell.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Dad With Too Much Free Time

We had great weather in southeastern Pennsylvania this morning, so I took my son to his fall baseball game. He has a nice, supportive coach, who moves kids around in the field and in the batting order. My son is one of the youngest players on his team, and the team has a bunch of nice kids on it. The parents are supportive, and the dads who help out are nice men.

The other team's coach, is out of control. This is a recreation league, and the kids are supposed to have fun. His intensity is such that his veins come close to popping out of his head. He has held as many as four practices in a week, tells the kids to get to the games an hour and a half early to warm up, and was seen earlier this year ejecting others from the batting cages (where you do not have to sign up) so that his team could get their batting practice before a game. He deploys signs for his hitters, bunts frequently and is a pre-possessing presence.

Oh, and did I remember to tell you that the kids are eight and nine years old?

Guys like these give kids' sports a bad name. Guys like these cause kids to quit at too young an age because they take the fun out of the game. Whatever happened to encouraging kids to do their best, taking those who struggle aside for a teaching moment, sharing a smile with them, and pointing out to them the things that they did well? Whatever happened to letting kids be kids, to putting up with less-than-optimal-for-serious-adults discipline because these are young kids playing a kids game? There are times where you want your kids to become more serious and more disciplined, but I'd submit that games for eight and nine year-olds are not those.

The problem with kids' games is that adults with too much time (and I would argue that if you could schedule four practices a week with the sun setting earlier and earlier you do have too much free time) or who treat the games as if they're the Super Bowl ruin the sport for everyone. One of the other dads was seething as the man's over-the-top-attitude, but collectively we shook our heads in disbelief that we had "one of those guys" in our midst.

At the end of the day, the man's actions would be comical if they weren't so sad. There are too many parents out there who take games for kids too seriously. The problem sometimes is that the parents who put them in the proper perspective don't always have the time to volunteer, while some who volunteer put so much effort into their coaching that it's as if they're trying to seek some form of redemption for deficiencies in other parts of their lives. Or, they just want to win so badly that they forget that these are recreation leagues where participation and teaching are key.

I don't mind coaches who stress the fundamentals and want to win. I don't like it when, after a certain age, everyone gets a trophy. Fair enough, but there has to be a better balance somewhere, and I hope that someone who knows this man well will take him aside and suggest that perhaps he take a different approach to his coaching. He's embarrassing his kids, and he's embarrassing himself.

Even if his team wins.

Because, in the long run, the purpose of young children's sports suffers.


Post a Comment

<< Home