This spring Cole asked to play baseball. I was thrilled. He has never expressed an interest in playing sports. He has always shied away from trying new activities. Watching him grow and succeed on the ball field has put a smile on my face all spring. He’s become more confident. He’s becoming more comfortable in his own skin. He is learning to accept failure with grace (key word: learning!).
While I love being on the ball field cheering him on, I have to be honest….
I don’t love everything that surrounds childhood sports.
In order to be completely honest, let me start by disclosing that Cole’s team has never won a game. His coach stresses fun over winning. Cole is not the best player on his team. He is a very consistent player. He almost always hits the ball, but he has never hit a home run. He makes some awesome stops in the outfield, but has never caught a pop fly. The boy can also hustle. They call him wheels on his team. His heart is in the right place. He loves playing baseball. Maybe I would feel differently if he hit home runs and his team was undefeated, but I doubt it.
While Cole’s coach stresses fun, a good majority of the other coaches stress winning. In the past two games, I have witnessed the same coach cheat to benefit his own time (with a smirk on his face. He knew what he was doing). I have seen adults make mistakes (it happens), and the kids on the team be punished for the adult’s over site. I have watched coaches play sloppy baseball just to score.
I know the point of playing a game is to win, but at what cost? At what age does winning begin to outweigh good HONEST fun? Fortunately Cole is oblivious to all of this and he continues to smile through each game. As a mom on the sidelines it is very frustrating.
While I think it is important for these young boys to learn how to play proper baseball, an eight year old should not be called “out” after he runs home because his dad (and coach) patted him on the back as he rounded third base. A child should not be called “out” because his coaches sent out the wrong batter. I know it’s a fine balance. They need to learn the proper rules of the game, but these boys are 7 and 8 years old. Let them fall in love with the game of baseball.
I know that opinions on this topic are all over the place. This is just the opinion of one mom who thinks sports (and life) should be fun when you are eight years old. Winning isn’t the only thing in life that matters. The coaches (and a lot of the other kids on other teams) could learn a few life lessons from a team that hasn’t won a game all season but continues to show up, have fun, and love baseball.
Now I just have to learn to sit on the sidelines and not let the rest of the baseball world interfere with my love of watching my child fall in love with a sport.