Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Playing Dirty

This year my eldest daughter happened to be placed with the worst team of the league. It isn’t that her teammates can’t play – several of them have great raw ability and were selected for the summer travel team. The problem is that they have received no coaching this spring. The coach has called no practices and doesn’t have much to say during the games. The parents have picked up the slack, yelling from the sidelines where the plays are supposed to be going to. Most of the time, I have had to be at games for my younger children and have missed out on the horrible experience of watching a team that looks like the Peanuts gang.

They have not won a single game. This has been extremely discouraging for the girls. At the All-Star Game, we were teamed up with the best team in the league, much to the other team’s chagrin. One girl, who happens to be physically an excellent athlete but socially displays a really bad attitude, was selected for the All-Star Team and refused to play with us because she said we would make her lose! When news got around of this the girls were not too happy.

The All-Star Game actually was quite excellent. But when we played against them this Monday night, tempers were hot (parents included, although we keep our complaints to whispers and are polite to the other team). For most of the game, the other team would not hit any balls that were pitched to them; they waited to be walked. One of our pitchers got such a severe headache that she had to go on the disabled list. One of our girls was hit hard in the leg by a ball, en route to first base, and also had to go out.

Another of our pitchers decided to take matters into her own hands. She hit the snotty above-mentioned girl in the rear end. It looked to us like she had walked into it, and we had to laugh when she said, “Ooh, you got me in my booty!” and ran gingerly to first base. Said pitcher was next up at bat and coincidentally also got hit in the rear end.

At the last inning, my daughter was pitching to the snotty girl who had started it all. She gave her a good pitch and the girl returned it, hard, a line drive down center field. My daughter caught it and ran to home with it before the girl got to first, and she was out – the last out of the game.

My daughter was horrified when her friend confided to her that she had purposely hit the snotty girl in the rear end. I said that I was proud of her for doing things the proper way. We were all glad for the game to end on that note. But I was sad to see the poor teamswomanship that had been displayed during this dramatic ball game.

Later, my husband told me this was part of the intimidation game between pitcher and batter that normally goes on in professional baseball. But, I said, these are young girls, and most of them are friends on and off the field. Shouldn’t this cut-throat behavior be prohibited in friendly Little League games?

Moments like these are real teachable moments for all parents involved. We have to talk about the behavior we have seen. It is hard not to be judgmental about the characters of those who have not acted well. We are trying to show them that how they act in such situations really does build what kind of character you will have – yet not condemn the guilty individuals as being bad characters already, at such an impressionable age.

Chapter 30
He who loves his son chastises him often, that he may be his joy when he grows up.
He who disciplines his son will benefit from him, and boast of him among his intimates.
He who educates his son makes his enemy jealous, and shows his delight in him among his friends.
At the father's death, he will seem not dead, since he leaves after him one like himself,
Whom he looks upon through life with joy, and even in death, without regret:
The avenger he leaves against his foes, and the one to repay his friends with kindness.
He who spoils his son will have wounds to bandage, and will quake inwardly at every outcry.
A colt untamed turns out stubborn; a son left to himself grows up unruly.
Pamper your child and he will be a terror for you, indulge him and he will bring you grief.
Share not in his frivolity lest you share in his sorrow, when finally your teeth are clenched in remorse.
Give him not his own way in his youth, and close not your eyes to his follies.
Bend him to the yoke when he is young, thrash his sides while he is still small, Lest he become stubborn, disobey you, and leave you disconsolate.
Discipline your son, make heavy his yoke, lest his folly humiliate you. “



Loren Christie said...

That would infuriate me as a parent. This is not professional baseball, where there are physical trainers and doctors on the sidelines to help an injured player. These are children. I agree with you. When my husband played in an adult league, I used to get all bent out of shape when he was hit on purpose. People get this Lord of the Flies mentality with games and that's what I don't like about sports.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I think it offers many teaching opportunities and this one game was an exception. For the most part the girls are all friends. This one girl brought out the worst in them, which is sad.

Colleen said...

Hi. Found you through Sunday Snippets. Sports for children should just be fun. I agree that it can bring teachable moments, like good sportsmanship and moral behavior. But not all parents are like you. Some of them - and some coaches - take it too seriously. It is so good that you look for what you can teach your daughter. However, sounds like your daughter already knows what was wrong. You must be proud of her. God bless.

BPOTW said...

An interesting take. Thanks for posting on BPOTW!

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Thanks Loren, Colleen, and Vicki at BPOTW for your encouraging comments! I am very proud of her, even more for the moral strength she shows than for her athletic ability. Tomorrow starts summer travel ball - I'm sure I'll have lots of stories to tell about that!

David Marciniak said...

It took our family a few years to find the right soccer league for our kids. Living in a large urban area afforded us the ability to choose a league that exemplified fair play and good sportsmanship among the kids, coaches and parents. The governing boards have to exemplify good behavior and insist on compliance among all parties, with consequences for bad behavior. my advice to parents is to check out the league leaders first. They tell a lot.

Nod said...

Welcome to the Sunday Snippets carnival. We've had some growing pains when it comes to good sportsmanship with my oldest. After a stern talk and a public apology to the coach, he now only encourages his team, even when the chips are down.

bettyl said...

Sports are for fun and to teach kids how to get along with teammates. It's too bad it's become too competitive .

Gombojav Tribe said...

I have thus far escape competitive sports for my children. I just don't handle the DRAMA well. But, my husband wants them to get involved in the next few years. So, I'll try to keep my cool, like you, and just vent on my blog! :-)