cheating (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
I am always amazed at how little people can think of you. Those with positions of authority can likely relate, but why is this? And why does this come from the same people repeatedly, while others, “grown men” as my Best Friend Sarah calls them, simply focus on the objectives
they have at hand. Why do people project themselves onto others?
One of the ones I get all the time is “all you want to do is win.” No, all I want to do is teach kids HOW to win utilizing character traits that will help them throughout the entirety of their life. Winning is not the end all be all, it is the result of hard work, dedication, discipline, and respect for your opponent. Ironically, when I teach kids these traits, suddenly they win more often than not. This makes others REALLY want to beat us, hence, they think, “All he wants to do is win.” We certainly enjoy our success, but rarely do we lose sleep over a loss because a loss teaches more about winning than winning EVER does!
Another one we get all the time is, “he cheats.” Well, EVERYONE who knows me knows I won’t even cheat in a board game! I get mad when my trivia team looks up an answer on
Google! Why play the game if you are going to cheat? Well, I guess you would have to ask those who accuse us of cheating, because the concept is foreign to me. What I do though, is know EVERY rule in the entire book so I can use them to our advantage. I also am a student of the game always trying to understand every possible scenario in every possible situation. This gives our team a competitive advantage, a LEGAL competitive advantage.
So why all the drama? I have a theory. When you see drama or experience one of those “huh?” moments, step back and take a look at who it involves. Almost ALWAYS it is the parents with their first kid! The first time through the system, the game means so much, the parents get so into it. By the time they are on their 3
rd or 4 th kid they realize that nothing that happens on the field as far as results means anything. In fact, 98% of it will be forgotten. Ask my 27 year old about a play, he won’t remember, ask him about how disciplined his teams were, he can’t forget.
I don’t mean militant style, though I have nothing against that, I just mean your approach to the game, to practice, from the instant you put on your cleats how you conduct yourself. A fellow board member told me something last week that made my day. He said, “I’ve come to realize that you aren’t the bad guy, you’re just the one that always has to deliver the bad news so you get a bum rap.” I paraphrase.
By far one of the best quotes came from one of the players on our tournament team though. Some of the girls from one of the other league teams were talking about how people say we cheat, (see above) and she said, and I quote exactly! “Yeah, I used to think that too, but after all-stars I realized you guys just have really intense practices and that makes you good.”
A very proud moment, a great life lesson, and the reason I am at the field every night.
Image by nathalie booth via Flickr
Quitters – If you commit to a team, you are there until the duration of your commitment is over. There are NO exceptions to this rule. Anything less is unacceptable because if you quit once, you are a quitter for life.
People who don’t know the rules but act like they do – Why do people who have never opened a rulebook in their entire life feel the need to embarrass themselves publically by getting rules wrong? Even worse, they get mad when the umpire rules against them and accuse those of us who have taken the time to learn the rules of being cheaters! Nuff said.
Guest Players – I could write a whole article on this one, but the bottom line is, be part of a team or go play an individual sport like golf. If you are in it for yourself, eventually, you will find yourself all alone. If you are committed to a team, then the team will be committed to you. Of course, a manager who brings a “guest player” on simply to win and sits one of their own players who has been committed to the team the whole time is even worse. Manager’s check your ego’s at the door.
Gossip – A + B = D???? Yeah, in the world of gossip that’s how it works. The great part of this game is the slow pace at which it moves, that also lends itself to lots and lots of conversations. Of course, nobody really knows anything, but everyone thinks they know everything! This is where my favorite line is “keep your blinders on and stay focused on the objective at hand”. This usually leaves those running their traps in the dust!
People who don’t step up – It is amazing how many complain yet don’t step up. In the words of the late great John Lennon, “there are no problems, only solutions”. You are part of one, you get to pick which.
Five Things That Delighted Me This Year
Heartfelt Thank Yous – Let’s face it, humble heartfelt gratitude is what makes doing this so great!
Being surrounded by great people – One of the great things about life is our inability to be successful without being in the company of amazing people. I am blessed in every aspect of my life to be surrounded by remarkable human beings. To them I give a heartfelt THANK YOU!
Smiling Faces – If I said it once, I said it 100 times. Nothing tops the smile on a kid’s face when they have accomplished something they worked so hard to achieve! Nothing!
Loyal and Courageous kids who kicked adversity’s butt! – You have two choices when things get tough, cut and run, or pull up your bootstraps and start swingin’! When a kid chooses hard work and dedication over giving up, they become our role models.
Positive Role Model Parents – You know, it’s always the ones that you on the surface appear rough, that turn out to be the best!
I challenge any of you to walk into your boss’ office today and tell them, “Hey Boss, thanks for teaching me everything I know, investing your personal time in me, and making me the exceptional employee I am today, but, I have a second job that is going to take priority over this one now. Don’t get me wrong, I will be here when I can, when the other job doesn’t need me, but that job is going to come first from now on.” I am certain your boss would ask you to pack your things and immediately show you the door. However, this is exactly what we are teaching children today. Then we are surprised when the real world smacks them in the face?
I challenge every coach, at every level, in every sport, to implement the following policy as it relates to attendance on your team:
Practice Attendance Policy
All players are expected to be at ALL games and ALL practices. Of course, there are times when conflicts will arise and you will not be able to make games or practices, we understand that. The following are acceptable reasons to miss a practice or a game:
-School Function or event including High School Practices
-Religious event or Special Family Event (Wedding, Baptism, etc….Birthday parties do not apply..lol)
There are no other legitimate reasons to miss practice or a game. If the player is going to be absent, it is the player’s responsibility to let me know when and why. If a player misses a game or practice for any reason other than what is stated above, the penalty for the absence will be:
-Will not start next played game. (There may be times when more than 2 are absent and this is impossible, but when possible, it will be strictly enforced)
-Will play mininums during that game (6 defensive outs and 1 at bat) The Little League Mantra is
Loyalty – Character – Courage
Definition: the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations. (dictionary.com)
It is important in any relationship to have loyalty. From simple friendships, to complex business relationships, without loyalty, the foundation upon which to build cannot withstand the pressures that will be placed on it. Rather than allow our children to develop bad habits, we must teach them loyalty by demanding loyalty to team. If they chose otherwise, then it is our duty as leaders to demonstrate what happens to those whose loyalties lie elsewhere.
We must remain loyal and true to those who are loyal and true to us. Every day our loyalties are tested and every day we must make decisions that impact those around us, often substantially. The kids that are loyal to our teams must be rewarded and taught that loyalty and trust are something that cannot be taken for granted, they are character traits that result in rewarding circumstances.
Definition – the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. (Dictionary.com)
I write about character in just about every article I write, both here and in the
Volusia/Flagler Parent magazines. My position on the impact of sport in the development of a child’s character are clear. Sport builds character. What character it builds is directly attributable to the manager and coach as well as the support system at home.
Do you want the character of your team to be one of integrity, or one of sacrifice? Ten years from now nobody will remember if the Giants beat the Red Sox or the Heat beat the Diamond Gems, but they will remember their coach didn’t reward their loyal character, so why should they provide it to their boss, company or customer? Maybe we need only look in the mirror to figure out why dedication to cause and commitment to quality are lacking in our country today.
Definition – the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. (Dictionary.com)
How many times have you stood in the box and watched a kid walk to the plate with fear in his eyes? What did you do? You encouraged him of course, and how often did he or she reward you with giant smile standing on second base after a line drive over the shortstop’s head? Why do we find it so easy to instill courage in others, but so hard to find it within ourselves?
I challenge you to have the courage to play those players loyal to your team. The ones who come to every practice, every game, don’t complain when they sit out, and give you 150% when you insert them in the order. As always, I think you might be surprised how well they perform when the pressure is applied. Then, you will be teaching two life lessons.
1. You can do anything you put your mind too
2. Nobody is irreplaceable.
Life is about choices, make good ones.
I found a cool scheduling site today. You can print brackets and round robin schedules there. Very nice to create games to plug into your field spreadsheet.
Tip: Play a double round robin and simply reverse the home and visitor teams.
The site is called
printyourbrackets.com and I have no connection to them at all. Just liked how easy it was to use.
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This is a travesty. Why would we cut out the one thing that the kids truly love about school? I believe that sport builds character, no matter what sport, eliminating it from schools is horrible. I see tons of fat around schools that could be trimmed w/o cutting out JV sports.
I remember my first year of Soccer in High School. My friends and I were all on the JV team and were very good. We actually won the JV championship, it was sweet! A few of us were selected to move up to the varsity team for the last few games, and though we never even saw the field, the experience was life altering for me!
We had to come to the varsity boys practice, fit in, earn their respect, and train as hard as they did. Talk about life lessons learned! We want to take this away from our kids? This makes not sense at all.
See the article about this here:
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Finally after all the late nights creating schedules, running drafts, fielding complaints, registering late arrivals, then redoing schedules, we played our first game! It was a minor league game against one of my friends teams so I knew it would be fun and controversy free. It lived up to the bill and then some!
We had a 5-4 minor league game that made it 5 innings before the time limit went into effect. Amazing! Very few walks and great defense all around. Smiles on all the kids faces and nobody really cared who won or lost. Again, it is the fall season, I told my team I didn’t care who won, the only thing that mattered was them improving their skills.
It’s all about the pitching! Keep practicing pitching, when you think you are done, practice more pitching, then when finally get tired of practicing pitching, practice pitching some more.
As a former Washingtonian I am proud to say that I knew of this phenom early in his career. Local sports analysts like George Michael featured him and he was a local star long before the world heard of him four years ago. Now, he is a phenomenon. Absolutely amazing.
Rain, Rain go away! Games in the Little League World Series getting rained out. Pool games are good, but the elimination rounds are nail biting!
First fall registration tomorrow! Time to start all over again! I can’t wait!
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It’s after midnight and I just got in! Umped major championship after getting field ready. Well, the city guy did most of the work and he wasn’t even supposed to be there! Learned a pretty cool trick w/ a pump to get rid of water, but that will have to save that story for later.
Anyway, losing team was up by 8 in going into the bottom of the 5th and lost on a
walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the sixth. Amazing. I think we will see more of this with the new pitching rules. Teams are on their 5th and 6th pitchers this late in the tournament.
Sectionals tomorrow have to be there at 7:30! Gotta run!
What’s the greatest ending to a game you have ever seen?
A Noble Effort?
Tonight I witnessed the president of a league argue with a district administrator to get one of the leagues player’s
ejection overturned because he would miss the championship game. While this may seem a noble effort on the surface, what does it actually teach the kid? And what kind of leadership is being displayed? The Circumstances
The player was ejected because he lowered his shoulder and plowed over the catcher when a play was being made on him at home.
Little League rules specifically state that you must slide or attempt to avoid contact when a play is being made on you. He chose to initiate contact and was ejected. This ejection would have taken place at just about every level of ball except the major leagues .
To further support the validity of the ejection, there was not a peep of an argument from the player’s manager, coaches, teammates, or spectators. It was truly a "no-brainer" ejection.
Winning or Life Lessons?
With all of this knowledge, the fact that the president of the league in question could argue at all means that more emphasis was being placed on winning the championship in the next game, than enforcing rules, respecting authority, and teaching good sportsmanship. Regardless of the words he was speaking, the results of his actions were saying, "it’s more important to win a championship than assure that the catcher is not injured". Is this what we are supposed to be teaching as officials of the leagues?
A Better Response
A better response would have been to take the attitude of "hey this stinks, but our player made a mistake, he must pay for it, and now each of us has to step up our game a notch to make sure we get to play tomorrow". I was an umpire in a game a couple years back where a senior player was out at first. He took off his helmet and threw it down slamming it into the ground. Again, an automatic ejection. The president of that league was there that time also and I heard him in the stands saying "he had no choice, that’s an automatic ejection, they warn them at the plate conference". That’s how a president should conduct himself. His actions probably averted confrontation from the parents because they were very upset with the ejection.
The team in question this time is coming out of the loser’s bracket, they must win twice before the other team
wins once. This means that if they pull off a victory in the first game w/o their player, he will be fresh for the second game. The officials of the league should have this positive attitude about the situation. A Suggestion
I hope the manager and coaches will have that attitude going into the game on Monday. If they whine and complain, this will be reflected on the bench and the players will give up before the game even starts. Encouraging each kid to step up and play even better than they were before will teach the kids that no matter what challenges they face, they can overcome them.
What is the worst offense you have ever seen an official commit?
After rain yesterday delayed our entire district’s tournaments by a day, we are ready to play our first game tomorrow. We have worked hard, hit hard, bled, sweat, and gone home dirty every night. My girls know the key to winning
championships , my montra ‘s are:
What is the most important pitch? The next one.
What wins championships? Blood, sweat, dirt, heart.
What do we play with? Head and Focus.
They know it all, they know what to do, they hit, they
field , and pitch. We have put them in a position to win , it is up to them to perform. I have full faith in their abilities, they must have faith in themselves.
How do you teach your kids to believe in themselves?
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