If you only read this headline, you would think I was about to write an article about how the kids don’t care any more, they are selfish spoiled brats, they only want to play video games, and don’t care about quality or performance or anything. But those of you that read this regularly know that isn’t my view of today’s youth. The parents, however, are a completely different story.
This weekend our league hosted the First Annual Spring Break Slam softball tournament using the new modified Little League Special Games Rules. The rules allow teams to play up to three games a day and relax pitching restrictions so you can stay competitive. Their are also other minor rules changes, but that is not important at this point.
My seniors team was eliminated in the first round of the elimination brackets so this afforded me the luxury of being able to sit back and watch games from an unbiased perspective. One I am rarely afforded. One thing stuck out to me more than anything else, the kids don’t care about anything except the game! The parents on the other hand.
For the most part, everything ran smoothly. All in all, the tournament was a huge success. But there were a couple of games where the coaches began arguing with each other, umpires, and spectators. While all this was occurring, I decided to focus on the field and watch the kid’s reactions. Guess what? They couldn’t have cared less.
The kids had no idea what the adults were arguing about, didn’t even care what they were arguing about, and at one point one of the older girls said to her dad, “Be quiet and just let us play the game”. Wow, amazing! And profound.
Meanwhile, while the coaches from one team were arguing with each other, the players were picking each other up, politely handing bats to one another, and showing professional courtesy across the board. Don’t get me wrong, they were playing hard and out to win, but they did it with dignity and a level or respect for each other that can only be learned through years of spirited competition.
Bottom line, the kids had no idea, nor did they care, what was happening outside of the lines, all they wanted to do was have fun, compete, and win or lose, they weren’t going to let it impact their lives.
I ask this to all the coaches out there, Does it really matter if you win the game tonight or the tournament next weekend? Will the sun still come up tomorrow? Will anything in your life be dramatically effected because the team of kids you coach aren’t champions? Of course not, so why do we act as if our lives depend on victory? Ironically, it is when you focus on fundamentals, sportsmanship, and teamwork, that victory soon follows.
Quit arguing, sit back, enjoy the action, provide guidance when needed, and focus when lost. There is no place for bickering on the field, it simply isn’t worth it.
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