Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Article Every Baseball Parent Should Read...

Here's a great article that I came across today. Every baseball (sports) parent should read it. No additional comment necessary...

Hey, it's just youth baseball - don't be that parent

Saratoga News
06/24/2008 08:06:33 PM PDT

Oh, please tell me I was never that parent ... the parent that I saw over the weekend at my grandson's all-star baseball game.

Please tell me I was never like the mom who screamed at her son each of the three times he struck out--louder each time until the 8-year-old was finally in tears.
Please tell me I was never the dad who commented on everything his son did, hollering out helpful "tips" and offering words of encouragement, but also dealing out negative comments about the play of others.

And please tell me I was never the guy who orchestrated his son's every move, even to the point of positioning him in the outfield, like he had any idea where the kid should be playing or why he should be playing there.

So please tell me I was never that parent when I was a "parent-coach" for the combined 15 or so years that my boys were playing youth and high school baseball.

"Oh, sure you were," said my youngest son, Kevin.
"I was?" I asked in disbelief. "Which one?"
"You can't be serious," said Mike, the oldest. "You were all of them!"
Well, that truly hurts. Here I always thought I was that supportive, reassuring parent who encouraged and nurtured his boys through the youth sports experience.
"Are you kidding?" asked Mike, unsuccessfully fighting back a hearty laugh.

OK, so I do admit to making Mike cry just about every time we drove home from practice during his first year of real baseball. But as any pushy baseball parent knows, that 8-year-old season is critical in the drive to the Major Leagues.

That must be what the parents at Anthony's game were thinking last weekend. After all, any kid who strikes out in an 8-year-old all-star game (uh, did I mention it was only a practice game?) certainly will drop a couple of rounds in the amateur draft.

So as any good parent-coach knows, it's important to get through to the child immediately by screaming at him--even better, have his mother scream "swing" after every pitch. And what kid doesn't like having his mom call him out behind the dugout to yell at him face-to-face after a strikeout? Hey, this kid must have been too young to know that there's no crying in baseball, because the tears were falling faster than the pitcher's earned run average after that third strikeout.

Well, I must admit that I learned my lesson a few weeks into Mike's 8-year-old season and we enjoyed another dozen or so tearless years where he experienced more than his share of success. And it must have been a pretty positive experience for him, because he's now a high school baseball coach.

Hopefully, the mom of Anthony's teammate will soon learn a similar lesson, though (as any self-respecting nosy newspaperman would do) I discovered by eavesdropping that she had other sons playing elsewhere. I sure hope they're swinging.

And as for the dads, their sons would be much better off if they'd just let them play and leave the coaching to the coaches (hey, there's a novel thought!).

It's the negative comments, though, where the line should certainly be drawn. There's no reason for a parent to criticize any player on the field--his own son, his son's teammates or even the players on the opposing team. It's youth baseball, for crying out loud--8-year-old youth baseball in this case!

I bring this all up now for a couple of reasons. First of all, I just saw these parents in action on Saturday, and from the perspective of a grandfather sitting in the bleachers I was appalled by their actions and I was embarrassed for them. Secondly, the all-star season is starting in full swing this week for Little League baseball players of all ages, and maybe this can serve as a wake-up call.

And finally, from the point of view of someone who's been through it before, my advice is for parents to enjoy every moment from the stands and cheer on your children and their teammates with encouragement, not criticism. You will all have a more enjoyable experience.
"Sure, Dad, until the ride home," said Kevin. "We never wanted to ride with you because if we had a bad game you'd lecture us all the way home."

"Yeah," I said, "but remember--if you had a good game, you got ice cream!"
Performance incentives. Now there's a subject for another day.


BaseballBob said...

I once gave an introduction speech to the parents of my 8 year youth baseball team where I stated how lucky their kids are to be playing for me. I told them how y the fifth game I expected that every college coach in the area would have sent their scouts to evaluate their child. by the 7 or 8 game pro teams like the Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Brave, and others will have sent their recommendation to the home clubs on drafting their child this year.
After they realized was only joking we had the most enjoyable season we ever had.

youthbaseballblog said...

I love it. thanks for posting..