So little time and so much to write. I can’t tell you how many times since Easter that I have planned to write a blog entry only to realize I was much too tired, worn out, hungry, busy, (blah blah blah). Since my last entry, we have had so much happen and there has been so much gnawing at me, but alas, the time to write came and went.
Even though recent events have taught me to slow down, say no, and enjoy those precious to me, I still feel like the hamster in the wheel. And this weather! A May Day snow in Omaha was too much. I was in the car with my oldest daughter for the daily trip to school when I said, “Oh, there is something you don’t see every May 1… a snowplow.”
The weather has made our three daughters wait patiently for their spring sports to begin. One has missed countless track meets due to rain, sleet and snow. With three meets under her belt, she will head to districts. Another has endured soccer tourney cancellations and league games rescheduled, only to be canceled a second time.
Our youngest has entered the world of “outs” in softball. This is the first year that she is either safe or out. It’s a great lesson. Life isn’t over when you’re out; it just means you’re out. It’s a part of the game. Hm… Game (moment for quiet reflection). I think we sometimes forget that we play sports because we enjoy them. Every kid started playing because he/she wanted to have fun. A wonderful biproduct is that they teach us all sorts of good things that we should know for life’s journey. What do sports teach us?
Be active. Excercise is good.
You don’t always win. There is always someone better than you, and even if there isn’t, you can still lose because on that day they were better than you.
Never make excuses when you don’t win. It’s not someone else’s fault.
Competition is good. Our country is founded on this principle, and I think we have a pretty darn good country.
It’s the people that matter. No one remembers the score a year from now, but the people live with us forever.
Mistakes are good, if you look at them the right way. Those who learn from their mistakes are the ones who win in the end. No one started out playing a sport and doing it right from the start.
Practice, practice, practice. If you want to be good at something, it just doesn’t happen over night. You have to be dedicated and work hard.
Parents are the only people who can ruin youth sports. I am going to say this in love… STOP IT! And I am talking to myself as well.
“KNOW YOUR ROLE, TO ACHIEVE THE GOAL.”
Let the officials do the officiating, let the players play, let the coaches coach. Parents, your job is to spectate, cheer, console, laugh, and help your child overcome failure, and your child will fail, and they will fail over and over and over. If you don’t let them fail then you are doing your child a disservice. Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before he got the light bulb right. He must have played baseball as a first grader.
I coach second grade girls softball, and most of the girls are actually in first grade. We wanted to have them play up a division so they could be called out. I have never seen so much failure in one spot in my life. It is an hour of 80% failure, 5% success, and 15% dumb luck. It’s like herding cats, and it is the most wonderful place on earth. These pools of failure can be found in most parks this time of year. Look for the kids in the colorful uniforms with team names like the Dragonflies, Battle Divas, or Pink Storm. Their helmets don’t fit, and everyone has at least one shoe untied.
The fields are brilliant green because every yellow dandelion has been picked clean by the outfielders. The snacks and the pregame cheer are just as important as getting to bat, and the laughter from the stands of proud parents watching their children fail miserably floats on the breeze.
Then something happens as they get older. We start to keep score. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like participation medals and a ribbon for everyone. I am quite competitive. I played college baseball and four sports in high school. Mydaughters have that same passion. Well, not the first grader, yet.
But the moment we start to keep score, well, things change, parents change. Laughter turns to complaint. Complaint about officials, coaching, playing time, who plays what position, and who made the error. Parents turn on one another, and friendships fill with turmoil. Been there, done that. We as parents need to rise above the fray and lead by example. Victory with honor is easy. Losing with honor is more difficult. Grace, that’s what we need more of. Even though I am a parent, I still make mistakes, as all parents do. I ask for grace. I ask for forgiveness for my part in the negative side of youth sports, and I ask for those who know me to seek me out when I cross that line so I can remedy the situation. Hey, I’m trying to teach my kids a life lesson. I make mistakes and ask forgiveness and I forgive those who hurt me. We all make mistakes, but not all of us learn from them. That lesson of life will cost us in the end.
That’s my two cents. (sorry, a little nostalgia for anyone out there who read my column for my college news paper.)