Has it come to this?

We signed Peanut up for travel softball this year. She’s 8. As part of this, we had to go to a mandatory meeting for parents and kids. Information like who the coach was, how practices worked, etc. Introduction to some of the leaders of the Softball org. I’m on board. Then, the conversation takes a turn. And I’m well and truly baffled.

We got a discussion (really closer to a lecture) about not posting on social media about how bad another team is, or how horrible an ump is. About whether another teammate is any good or not. Are you kidding me? Oh – and this was directed AT THE PARENTS. Apparently, every year, some parent or another posts a derogatory comment about another team, organization, teammate, etc.

Oh, and lest you think they had faith we could behave off social media, nope. We also got a lecture about not complaining to or about the umps. About not going off on the kid’s playing time to the coach. About not saying anything to the other team. Because every year they get 1-2 calls about parents who were yelling at the ump, the coach, or talking smack about their kid’s teammate(s) or opponent.

My kid is 8 years old. She’s playing on a 3rd string U-10 team. Yes, 8. C team. How did we get here? How did we get to a point where an organization for and about kids has to tell parents to be nice. To play nice. To respect coaches who are donating time. To respect umpires. To teach our kids that if we want playing time, we have to practice more, we have to get better. It’s not some guaranteed thing when you get to travel.

I don’t get it. I often think ‘what?!?’ when an ump or ref makes a call. Sometimes it comes out, but I never, ever get after the ump. (Half the time they are 18yo kids learning their first job). I would never blast a coach in front of my or any other kid about playing time. If I thought she got a raw deal, I would have a conversation with the coach out of my kid’s hearing (email?). I would listen if he said, well, she’s not been hustling, or something. hmm. Then I’d have a conversation with her about how you get rewarded for hard work and are not entitled to everything just because you’re you.

We watched her first double-header yesterday. The kids on both sides were definitely playing at U10 level. But, they had fun, they tried. Our coach is loud, but he’s about the learning. Our coach got on the kids, not about their errors or batting, but about cheering each other on. The girls had fun. They learned a little something. They have probably forgotten about it already. But, I haven’t… I saw parents cheering their kid or giving directions, but I didn’t hear put downs. I heard our coach tell their catcher nice play.

My kids play sports. And it’s not because I want them to earn a scholarship to college (that’d be nice, but that’s a pipe dream). They play because there is something inherently fun in sports. There’s something about camaraderie of team sports. A feeling of success when you master that next skill. A learning to win well and lose better.

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