Trial & Error- Tales From the Edge of Parenting – There is no “I” in “TEAM”, but Apparently There are Plenty of Nutty Coaches
I remember hearing the same things over & over as a kid. "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game." "Nobody is more important than the team." Looking back now I see just how crazy that seems.
If you're a parent you've surely seen it. If you're a coach, you may have done it. It's how we were raised around the game of baseball. There are just some things that, if not being done on a baseball diamond, would warrant a psychological exam. I can't imagine getting into an argument with a supervisor (umpire) that turns into screaming & kicking dirt on his shoes. I can't imagine intentionally hitting an employee of a competitor, much less going all Anchor Man & physically fighting the entire competing company. It's ludicrous. Yet it's seeped all the way down from the Majors, to the minors, to college, to high school, to little league, and yes, even to Tee Ball.
I saw my son's tee ball coach ejected from a game for arguing with an umpire a few years back. This is a guy that's well-respected in the community and (off the field) is a completely decent guy going nuts over 5 & 6 year olds playing tee ball. Just recently, my younger son's coach got into a verbal altercation with an umpire after a close play at 1st base ended the game in a loss for our team. Great guy. Bad behavior on the diamond.
Both coaches, I'm sure, regret that day, but there's no going back. My older son hasn't played baseball since. He says it's too competitive for him. Normally I'd turn into the grouchy old man complaining about how soft this generation is, but I can see it here. Kids are put into training regimes for specific sports way too young. I like that Tyler, since giving up on baseball, has taken on martial arts, swim team & many academic extracurricular activities.
HOWEVER... I'm not one to run away from something. I want to fix it. How do we fix it? Can we fix it? The adults at youth sporting events act like they're the kids through their ridiculous behavior, and it's a problem that starts & stops with adults that never see themselves as the problem. I'd like to record video of parents cheering on their kids and show it to them at their place of business in front of co-workers. How embarrassed would that person be to see themselves screaming like red-faced crazies? Sadly, probably not that embarrassed.
I should be surprised by the latest story of coaches acting like fools (with their pants on the ground), but I'm not. A tee-ball coach was arrested for physically assaulting his opposing coach after the two verbally sparred with each other throughout the game & had to be separated more than once by the umpire. These kids were as young as 3-years old, looking to their supposed authority figures for guidance. Woops!! If the arrestee is ever even allowed to witness another of his child's games all hope has been lost.
A lot of little leagues have created fan/coach/player rules that have zero tolerance for arguing with umpires or yelling at participants. How bad is that? These are children, 99.9% of whom will never play a day of college or pro ball, taught from an early age that winning IS the most important thing, and that having fun is NOT important, as long as there is a medal or trophy (that'll be shoved into a box and never thought about again) on the line.
I used to imagine my kids playing sports to get a sense of fair play, competition, working as a team & bettering yourself through hard work. Instead, it's turned into a win-or-else life-or-death situation that is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE. Nobody was more competitive than me as a kid. I hated losing, and a tear was shed every now and again when I was growing up. There was always a coach or parent there to pick me up, tell me we'll get 'em the next time & as long as you had fun, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose. Now, it's the 5-year olds telling coach it'll all be alright. But they're wrong. As long as it's the coach crying on a shoulder these kids won't take anything with them from youth sports... except anger issues & concussions.