I'll clarify that it isn't the town or the bulk of the people in it I hear about, it's always a few select assh*ole coaches that ruin the fun for everyone.
Last night I had the privilege of watching one firsthand.
I'll remind everyone my younger son is eight. He's on the younger end of the spectrum but no boy is older than ten. This is minors. Not majors, not juniors, not Junior Varsity or Varsity. Minors. Truthfully the boys don't even play 100% "real" baseball yet, there are rules such as the coach coming in to pitch if a run will be "walked" in.
All the rules are to keep the game moving as smoothly as possible since there are players who are very new to playing anything other than coach pitch. The rules also keep parents from sticking needles in our eyes as teams score run after run after run while three outfielders watch butterflies and count blades of grass.
The man coaching the team we played last night behaved in an incredibly disappointing manner. He was focused on winning, so much so he didn't care how his players felt when he screamed.
When he yelled.
When he scolded the entire dugout so loudly we could hear every word. "I don't care what the fox says! If you aren't talking about baseball in this dugout I don't want to hear your mouth!"
Let's be honest, everyone cares what the fox says.
Along with yelling, scolding, and telling a player to lean into a pitch (I'm assuming he wanted a baserunner on that one) he had our teams playing well past the two hour limit. These little boys had school the next day, some waiting for supper because they only had a snack before the game, and yet we played until 8:30pm.
It's tough to play coaches like him. The atmosphere makes parents aggressive and angry, and all of a sudden everyone is wrapped up in excessive celebration if a boy strikes out. Parents cheer when boys make mistakes and drop baseballs. We do it all because we just love to stuff it in that coaches face.
But all we're hurting are these little boys who are still learning how to play. They're still learning where to throw the ball and when they have to tag a runner. Imagine how terrible to be a child and hear grown adults cheering when you miss a ball? Or strikeout? It's not easy to go to practice after school and miss sleepovers for games on the weekends. These kids should be celebrated and encouraged for even lacing up those cleats and giving baseball a try; not berated for losing a game that matters just about zero in the grand scheme of things.
I am confident in saying my son will never play for a coach who treats his players the way this coach treated his players last night. It will be a cold day in hell before a grown man screams at my son for being eight.
Because that's exactly what was happening in that dugout.
Yes, we all want to win. Yes, I think boys on varsity teams are open game to be yelled at for wondering what the fox says. There is a time and a place for tough coaching, and little league minors isn't it.
Cheers to all the fabulous dads and moms who volunteer their time and make playing on teams positive experiences for these impressionable kids. Coaching a team is about celebrating accomplishments and showing kids by example how to handle their disappointments. It's about teaching kids to love the game and appreciate how special it is to be on a team.
This week I'm sending a shout out to the good ones; to the ones who put the kids before the team's record. After all, these kids have their whole lives to be yelled at and to take things seriously. I'll give you the high school athletes, even the middle schoolers. Make them run laps and yell at them to make a play when they're slacking off on the field. Those kids should have a pretty solid idea how to play the game and be competitive.
But the players who still watch Disney Junior when no one is watching? Not cool man. Not cool.
Have a fab Thursday!