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why kid's sports suck: when adults act younger than the children

I am so pissed off my eyes are crossed.

I just got a call from my ex regarding the situation on DJ's baseball team. If you remember, last week I wrote about an episode where the coach of the opposing team was being an ass.

I felt like our coach did nothing to stick up for his team. In fact, he pouted like a martyr and sat on the end of the bench while the kids played out the rest of the inning.

Friday night (I wasn't at the game) the president of the league - a squat woman with the ferocity of Godzilla - came over to our team and berated our kids and the parents for their behavior. What brought this on? Our own coach complained about us.

We were pissed at him because he sat around crying that his team was mad at the other coach for bumping a 13 year old umpire and getting away with it. We weren't showing good sportsmanship by asking that the other coach behave in a manner appropriate to the game. What the hell? Is this guy insane? So instead of acting on his players' request that he ask the other coach to please stop his reactionary behavior, our coach sits out two innings while he sulks. Of course we parents were upset at this. And of course we took over coaching the kids.

My ex tried to talk to the bitch woman after the game, but she at first ignored him and then brushed him off, saying that parents who complain are problems she doesn't have time for.

So now the league has branded our team the trouble makers, we get yelled at and censured while the other coach and his rotten, spoiled, foul-mouthed players get a free pass to break rules, sidestep regulations and take cheap shots at the opposing players.

Why? Because that coach has been in the league a long time. He has the politics of the game down pat. He is friendly with the board of the league.

I am so pissed off I can't see straight. And that bitchy man-woman will not hear anyone out. She doesn't want to know anything that's going to rock her boat.

Meanwhile, our kids have lost their desire to play with their hearts. They are afraid of their coach. They don't give it their all anymore. They've lost five in a row. This sucks because at this age - the first year in the minors - is when the kids should really be playing for keeps. The whole idea of "playing to have fun" disappears when you're ten and you're now gearing up to hone your game so when you get to middle school you can make the team. The kids at this age are serious about the game. They solidify their positions at this age. They don't want this crap. They don't need a coach who behaves younger than they are. For kids like DJ, who live and breathe the Little League seasons, this sucks big time.

I am so very, very disappointed in the whole damn thing.

this post will be edited later, when I've calmed down a bit and be more rational

Comments

You sound plenty rational to me.

I played sports like crazy Ė and the happiest times I had was when my folks stayed well out of it. Sure, you might have a coach that isnít worth anything, or the other team might be buttheads. A couple of guys on the other team might even chase you down and try to beat you up after the game Ė and do it. You suffer injustices, make sacrifices and get your picture in the paper for a winning goal, or whatever. And your successes and failures are YOURS, not your familyís.

I have no clue what your situation really is, and Iím sure youíll use that to discount what Iím saying Ė but frankly, if you are in a place where rage is, then disconnecting would be high on my priority list. Kids are smart, they hear you talk Ė and their game will be about politics if it isnít already.

And sorry, but pivotal year or something? Kid needs this year Ė if going to be serious next? Come on now, kid needs some books, sports is not something any kid needs other than to be healthy and to form sociological functionality Ė the latter impossible with too much presence from the parents.

What I think is, sporting parents latch on to the competitive spirit of the game through the child, and are in a place where they canít see that that is the deal. Let the kids stand on their own, and take their lumps.

Unbelievable. We are lucky we have a great coach. The other night the other team had a coach who never smile once and threw crazy pitches, hit 8 kids in the face and neck w/ the ball....these are 4 and 5 year olds. What the hell is wrong w/ these people????

man, that sucks. mainly for the kids. the adults are supposed to set the example.

i guess we've been lucky to have great coaches in basketball and soccer. i've only come across one or two asshole coaches so far and we've never had any major incidents with parents. maybe it's cause i come from a small town. i dunno.

my son's soccer coach is the greatest ever. he gives indivualized awards after the games to everyone on the team and after this season ended he was go proud of the team that he nearly started to cry. we lost our division championship game but our guys played their hearts out. i really believe a good coach can make all the difference.

Michele... you live in Long Island, and you're surprised people act like assholes?

When I ran a function within a grocery store chain some years ago (Grand Union, if you're interested), the Long Island stores were notorious for having the rudest, most selfish shoppers of any area in the Northeast. We were threatened with more lawsuits in L.I. than in the rest of the Northeast COMBINED -- a couple of our staff were even attacked on occasion, all about GROCERIES, fer goshsakes.

If all the parents on your kid's team feel the same way as you do, you should yank ALL the kids in protest -- and call Newsday.

Sport is important for a kid, in so many ways. But the lessons your kid is learning are not the right ones.

I feel for you!!! My son (10) plays Minor LEague Baseball and we've had a trouble coach for awhile. However this year our town athletic league requires all adults on the field (coachs, Asst coachs, base coachs) to go through a coaches certification ( http://www.nays.org/coaches/ ). As #rd Base Coach I had to sit through a 5 hour coarse to recieve my card. The kicker is the card must be displayed AT ALL TIMES when you are on the field. If you do not have your card you are not allowed on the field, PERIOD!!!! (Even coaches with the league for years). And if there is a problem with a coach complaints can be made and certification pulled.

Also, if this coach bumped a 13 year old umpire then a phone call made from a local pay phone to child protective services should give the other coach and "Godzilla Bitch" a wake-up call......

Michael, I think you misunderstood me.

I'm not one of those parents who lives vicariously through their kids sports achievements. I'm furious at the way the coach has treated his own players and at the disregard the league has shown for the way the other coach has behaved.

Please note that we are not the only team to complain about that other coach, In fact, some of the other coaches were warned about him prior to the season.

As for my own son and his coach - I think that the coach is setting a very bad precedent for the kids by 1) not sticking up for them when calls clearly were made due to intimidation of the umpire by the other team and 2) sulking when he should have taken a different route regarding the situation.

Yes, my son takes the game seriously. Most boys say they want to be a basebally player when they grow up. Some kids, like my son, really mean it. If he - and some of the other kids on his team - can devote themselves to learning the game, then I can expect that someone who takes the time to coach the kids will be able to teach my son the things he needs to know in order to succeed in baseball.

It's no different than a kid taking science seriously because he wants to be a scientist when he grows up. Baseball is my son's talent and I make no excuses for him taking it so seriously.

I usually refrain from getting involved in the game. I have very rarely, in all the leagues he has played in, voiced my opinion about anything. However, when the behavior of the adults involved in the game is having an effect on the kids, I think it's my duty as a parent to speak out.

Michele,
I find your post about your sonís baseball team and the coach interesting. I can relate to being a ten year old boy playing organized sports- especially baseball. Itís fine that you take baseball so seriously, and according to you your son does also, but I begin to wonder if you are the sort of person you say you loath just by some of the comments you make. I donít believe at age ten that learning a baseball position is pivotal to a childís development. Sports should not be about winning but about building character. What might your son think if he hops in the old minivan and hears a mother complaining ďthat piss-ant of a coachÖĒ

I played baseball as a youngster and was very good at it. The only year I remember playing baseball from my youth was the year I was on a team in a similar situation to your son. We won one game that year. The coach sat us down and explained as well as anybody could have to a bunch of ten year olds, life is not fair. He was a great coach who stood up for us, unlike your sons, and taught me a great life lesson early. Baseball can be a learning experience for a kid, but it should not take the place of science, mathematics, art, literature, and play.

no editing needed, that was rational enough. jocelyn played ONE season of city softball when she was about 11 and it started out hellaciously. new younger coach, mean. belittled the girls and made them cry/feel guilty. would roll his eyes and sulk. wouldn't take any advice from the parents who had been coaching for years. we finally had to write a letter to the higher-ups and complain. the coaching parents, who weren't coaching that season because they really didn't have the time, collectively banded together and took over coaching the team. this after offering to step in and help the new coach, explaining to him how unhappy the girls were. they really tried to be nice about it, i was there. he turned and walked away. it was for the best. after that, the girls improved every time they played and they started having FUN. it was a joy to see :)

Tom, I don't complain about the coach in front of the kids. In fact, I was the least vocal parent of the whole bunch as I did my complaining behind the scenes.

I think the coach was setting a bad example by being petulant when he didn't get his way.

I'd like to know what is wrong with honing an obvious talent a kid has? Baseball isn't our entire lives, I don't even let him play on the travel team because it would take too much out of his free time. He's a straight-A student with a decent work ethic.

So why is it wrong to take what he's good at and go with it? It's not like I'm making him sacrfice schoolwork or playtime with his friends for baseball.

When I was 19, I helped coach my sister's softball team.

Boy, I'm not making that mistake again. This guy got pissed off at me because I pulled his daughter (who was pitching) in the middle of an inning. He accused me of hurting her self confidence.

She was about ready to cry out there before I pulled her, I thought letting her walk another two runs in would have been worse...but her father thought differently.

I love baseball and I was involved in Little League for almost twenty years. Iíve shepherded two sons and a nephew through Little League. It pains me to say this, but I think there are few modern American institutions more corrupt than Little League. Obviously money isnít involved to any real extent, but the issue of who gets played and who doesnít is largely political, and very unfair to the kids.

Thereís a small sprinkling of stars who will always get played and a large group of untalented kids who will never get more game time than league rules require. The problems come with those kids who have talent and work hard, but are roughly of equal value as players. Bobbie is about equivalent to Billie at shortstop, so who gets played and who sits on the bench? It unfortunately depends much more on the parents than the kids.

Are the coach and the kidís parents friends? Will either of the kidís parents help decide who coaches the all-star team? Is one of the parents important on the Board? Does the coach have his eye on the kidís mom? (We hope he doesnít have his eye on the kid.) All these things are a lot more important than how well the kid plays baseball.

Then you get into the adult level politics that you describe, which can be even worse. Little League is a great idea, but it works a lot better in concept than it does in practice and Iím glad to be done with it.

Michele,

The coach of the other team reminds me of the character played by Vic Morrow in "The Bad News Bears," , who slaps his own kid on the mound in front of both teams, etc., when the kid won't bean a member of the Bears.

And we all know what happened to Vic Morrow.

"There's no crying in baseball."

Unfortunately, Little League is, in general, a trainwreck. Men coach to favor their own sons, teams are loaded, half the parents are blind to their own kids' lack of talent. Officiating is uneven. Adults sit in the stands and scream at kids trying to do their best, often those loudest never even played the game.
It's a huge effort to remember that no one wants to hit more, strike out less, and field perfectly more than those 9 little boys out on the field. The objective as a parent should be to keep as much of the shit away from the kids as they can and try to pick the positives to emphasize.
Having had a son who ate, slept, and lived baseball, I know well your frustrations. Good luck in your efforts to keep from biting off your own tongue!

Michele
I'm a parent of High School age kids who've played on state team at regional level in Olympic development in Soccer. So believe me on this, if your kid(s) are good you are going to enter into increasingly harder years ahead. I could write a couple feet of comments on this, favoritism, playing time, team vs individual achievement, travel, money, coaches, politics, etc. etc. but I wont.
I will state this, if your son is good, encourage him. Let him know that bad coaching, bad refs or umps, bad players, and bad fans in the stands are all part of the game he wants to love. It's a roller coaster, ups and downs.
And it all relates to life outside of sport too. Always play that card on them at the appropriate time. Point out the parallels when they occur. And yes, be involved. Having and stating your opinion and attending your kids games does not make you an obsessed sports parent. Encouraging and cheering does not mean you're living vicariously through them. And standing up for them in appropriate ways at the appropriate time is your duty as a parent. In short, to me it sounds like you're on the right track. You get a very few years of this insanity before the kids move on. Enjoy them!

It's time to start video (and audio) taping the games, and even the practices. (Your excuse for taping the practices is that you want your kid to be able to review at home.)

You can give the local TV (or radio) stations first crack at the best stuff, but there's always the web....

Michele,

I've been in situations like the one your son's coach found himself in. You're coaching a team of 10 year-olds and doing your best to try to instill the love of the game to them while at the same time dealing with coaches of other teams who coach to win at all costs. The key factor here is that the umpire was 13 years old. By raising a stink and trying to stick up for your team, you raise the tension level of the game and put a 13 year-old kid in a situation that he is in no way prepared to deal with. Its a tough situation. My approach would have been to try to talk to the other coach individually and get him to try to lighten up. Unfortunately, my experience shows this to be worthless. I'd try to talk to my kids and tell them that yes, I know the calls are going against us, but somehow we're just going to have to suck it up and deal with it. There is no way I would escalate the tensions of the game, especially when the umpire is only 13. It's not fair to him.

light bulb goes off

so... categorizing an entire group by the yammerings of a few asshats (definition of "asshat": loud, boisterous numbnut who says nothing of value) is the way to go.

thanks a bunch! i've learned a lot today!

goddamit, wrong link. you know which one i'm referring to.