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


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Sports in One Town

Because every dad seems to know something about baseball, the dads flock to it, and so do their kids. In our town, the dads are all over the sport. They coach it as if each game were a Major League contest, despite the fact that while a Major League GM and a AAA manager live in the area, the area itself hasn't turned out a Major Leaguer in at least 25 years (the town probably never). There are more travel teams than you can count, populated not by virtue of tryouts before disinterested judges and an elevation of the best of the best, but because of who coaches the team, how many of his buddies assist him, how many parents want to say their kids play travel, how many parents can devote the time to 70+ game schedules and how many parents want to foot the bill.

The high school team in the area stinks.

And it's a very big high school.

There is also a regional lacrosse program that draws kids from multiple school districts. The kids who play typically like activity, because when you boil it down, of the hours that a baseball game takes to play, perhaps there are only 20 minutes of action, and each kid isn't a part of the entire 20 minutes. The men who coach typically don't have sons on the team -- they are young guys looking for a coaching credential, dads of kids who are older and don't have kids on the team. The teams themselves don't play against kids from the same town or county, but sometimes drive as far as an hour to play an opponent. The league's elders evaluate the kids at different grade levels each year and place them on a team that's appropriate for their skill levels and upside. Few complain.

The high school team finished in the top 10 in the state and is viewed as an up-and-comer.

I took lots of Latin when I was in school, and liked geometry a lot. My high school geometry teacher used to finish off her proofs with the letters "QED," which stood for quod erat demonstratum, or "that which has been proven."

If I were to put down a blank before my own scribbling of "QED," what do you think would fill it in?

Our local baseball/softball association is about to have a huge, nasty fight about who will head up the organization. On the one side are the softball guys, each of whom has his own agenda, a team to showcase his own daughter(s) on (some of whom are very good, some of whom are not), and each of whom really isn't accountable to the organization or to the town that lets them use the fields, as most of the kids on the travel teams are roaming Hessians who cast their lot with different teams each year, no matter where they live. They could care less about the town. These guys do want to reform travel baseball, though, by making it more of a meritocracy and taking it away from the "appoint a head coach, let him pick 4 assistants, and have 5 of a team's 12 spots get taken by their kids, each of whom gets priority playing time" approach. The other side wants to keep the approach, doesn't care about softball (although if pushed some one admit that the situation isn't good for the town but since each local softball association seems to work this way, the fact that everyone else does it is sufficient justification for our town's not helping its own girls), and wants to build more fields to create more travel teams, thereby cannibalizing the rec leagues even more. Their answer to the lament that the travel culture is bad is to offer a travel experience to anyone who wants it.

It's a classic case of the fact that I'm happy that a) I don't have a horse in the race and b) I hope that both sides lose. I have friends on both sides of the fight, among them a few good souls who first and foremost want to do right by town kids. There are also people on both sides who have their own selfish motives and who have acted badly. The situation calls for Solomon, if one is around. My kids are finished playing in and for this organization. The fight will be nasty and will linger. It's just a shame that the powers that be can't focus on what makes sense, what works, and put out offerings that are for the public good and the good of the town, and not just to fill the needs of the fathers who participate.



Blogger Bomber Girl said...

sounds like congress.

6:43 AM  

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