Little League Baseball is a part of our boys’ lives as much as ice cream is to summer.
We live baseball for much of April, May and June. Then we turn around and do it all over again in August and September. Our family loves the game, and we love watching our kids play their hearts out.
As with any sport, everyone knows that there are ups and downs, winners and losers, great moments, great plays and also some mistakes. Certainly the players, coaches and parents know that the season will either be a winning one or possibly a losing one too. When you commit to a sport you expect every outcome. One thing is for certain, you keep the FUN in junior sports and you coach to bring out the very best in every kid.
We have played in our hometown Little League Baseball/Softball Association since the T-ball days. We have come to know the coaches, players and the parents well. We watched the athletic development of these kids grow as well as our own boys. Up until this season, our League has been fun to be a part of. Then something changed. The fun and the fairness we have come to expect began to take a back seat. All of a sudden, coaches began banning together to form their “power teams” ensuring their kids would play together.
Seasoned coaches who we got to know from T-ball days, paired themselves up on the same teams while brand new coaches were matched with other newer assistant coaches. Interestingly enough, the Combine/Tryout session somehow placed some of the better hitters and pitchers on the same teams. Funny how the luck-of-the-draw happens sometimes isn’t it? Or is it?
Our season unfortunately has been a losing season. I am not saying that I expect our teams to win all the time, it doesn’t happen that way. We teach our kids that losing is more important than winning because you learn from your mistakes. You learn how to win from losing. What I have a problem with is, why are there other teams on the league who just keep on winning? There is something suspicious happening when the opposing team forces a mercy situation more than once.
For the first time since we have been a part of this league, I can admit that we aren’t having fun. Our boys are feeling down and out because of the lost games and the lack of coaching. We encourage them to keep their chin up and play hard and not to take the game too seriously. Unfortunately when you are playing against teams that are stacked to win, it’s hard to stay positive.
This kind of stuff shouldn’t be happening in hometown Little League organizations. This is a time in these young kids’ lives where teaching moments like team building, having a positive attitude and good sportsmanship are paramount. It’s just very sad when these character traits are overshadowed by the need to always win. Even if it means taking the easy route by making sure your coaches and players are cherry-picked.
I am writing this post as a way to vent my frustrations about the lack of fairness in sports. The wrong messages are being sent to young people, and they are applying these messages to their daily lives. Adults have to remain positive role models even if it means accepting that life isn’t always a game to win. Giving kids the opportunity to fail once in a while will only get them to try harder next time. It’s a way to help them grow into well-rounded and hard-working adults.
Let’s remember to keep the FUN in youth sports and always make an opportunity for a FAIR playing field. That way every team will get a chance to know what winning feels like. And it’s a great feeling to have.