I wrote recently that baseball season for my players had ended.
I lied. Maybe I should say that things changed after I wrote that. That's not lying, it's going with the flow.
Later that evening we got a phone call inviting *N* (8) to play on our league's 8 and under team for a local tournament. Our league is coach pitch, their competitors were accustomed to the pitching machine. Our kids were a bunch of kids from different teams while their competition were from travel teams that have been playing together for probably a month.
But they're all kids 8 and under. (Although seeing the size of some of them I thought maybe we should be checking birth certificates. ;) )
To say that my son's team is getting walloped would be accurate. It's a new experience for them and they're learning. I know that it's hard to struggle on the field. I know that they're all doing their best. I am thankful their coaches aren't screaming at them.
To be honest, hearing the way some of the coaches on the other teams are screaming at the players..ummm yeah, I'm glad my boy is playing where he is.
I know that we've lucked out with my boys' coaches through the years. They focus on sportsmanship and skills and having fun. Guess what? They win most of the time. (Well, when they play in their league they do.)
I have respect for the coaches my sons have played with. I don't know if I could respect someone who was screaming at the kids one minute and in the next breath was telling them to relax.
I hate to say this folks but, "It's only a game." As my husband (who is passionate about sports, trust me) tells the kids, it's "Play ball not work ball." For the record, it drives him nuts when I say, "It's only a game." ;)
That being said, I hate to see my kid lose. I hate to see the ball roll by as someone stares at it. I sit on my hands mumbling, "Go get it." I wonder if we should be offering my boy who eats, sleeps and breathes baseball a different kind of experience.
Then I remember, he's only 8. He will learn much more and get much better and he will do all of this because of who he is as a person and because he is passionate about the game. Having coaches that are screaming at him won't make him better. Having coaches that stretch the rules to suit their own team won't teach him about ethics or fair play...make him decide he's had enough and it's not fun anymore? Yes. Want to get better and work harder? Probably not so much.
The line between wanting them to do their best and winning at all costs is a fine one and apparently is blurrier for some than others. I want *N* to have pride in a game well and honestly played...and also humility because every single thing he accomplishes, that anyone accomplishes is done by the grace of their God-given gifts and abilities. And I'm pretty sure that God wouldn't want anyone misusing His gifts.