Allow me to share with you a proud papa moment.  My 5-year old son, Logan, played in his first-ever tee ball games last night.  He finished the games 4-4 with 2 RBIs and 4 runs scored.  Not bad considering he didn't even know where first base was a week ago.  It's the conversation after the game that has me wondering if I'm damaging him by being too nice.  Let me explain.

It can be lonely in the outfield when you're the youngest kid on your team. Photo by Jamie Garrett

I was the worst kind of little league player when I was a kid.  I sucked, and I hated to lose.  Only once in my 10+ years of playing baseball as a kid did I have a "good" year on a "good team".  The other years were average, at best.  I had a temper, and when I didn't do well, or if my team lost, I was not the most pleasant person to deal with.  You'd figure after years of being at (or below) average would have softened my anger in dealing with a loss.  You'd figure wrong.  I never got used to losing.  Even in video game football or baseball, I don't just want to win, I want to dominate.

With both my boys I've tried to end the cycle of poor sportsmanship.  That's a noble enough act.  I think, however, that my preparing my boys to deal with life and its ups and downs may be doing more harm than good.  From day one I've preached good sportsmanship in handling both wins and losses.  Even after last night's two game sweep and Logan's terrific performance, I still took the time to talk with him afterward about how he's not going to win every game.  There will be losses.  There will be days when he can't buy a hit.  My point to both my boys is that you can't win every game, and having fun while learning and getting better is the most important thing.

I see parents that ride their kids hard when it comes to sports.  I've taken the opposite approach.  I let them know that, win or lose, life goes on and both parents love them.  Is that bad?  Should I be putting more of a demand on winning?  Is baseball just a smaller piece of life?  By telling him it's ok to lose, am I lowering his expectations?  I just don't know.  The only thing I can do as a parent is go with my gut and hope it's not the double cheeseburger talking to me, and is instead giving me the right "gut" feeling.

Maybe part of me wants to see them be average, so I can justify to myself that it was genetics that held me back, not just a lack of true "talent".  Keep in mind, however, that's only part of me.  The other part... the majority... wants to see them dominate so daddy has a retirement plan when he signs his $100 million contract.