I went on a bit of a tweet-tear this morning, might be easier to read in this form:
Youth sports is a machine now. It’s a money making engine. And it’s not just baseball; many of you parents do it for soccer, cheer, dance, lacrosse, swimming, basketball, etc.
I am fully aware that my family feeds into it.
There is a place for recreational sports, it doesn’t have to be ‘select’ or nothing.
My Saturday morning consisted of hosting Opening Day ceremonies for our local Rec program and it was amazing. The joy on the faces was contagious.
Parade of teams; first pitches; new uniforms; home run derby’s; T-ball kids running to the wrong base; and parents that were just excited to see little Johnny try something out.
Parents of young ones, if I have any advice, don’t look past those days.
Will there be a day that you need to move Johnny into something more competitive? Possibly. But I promise you, it’s entirely okay to allow them to play for fun.
Please don’t take the fun away. Not for an upgraded jersey or a $5 ring (or worse, your own bragging rights).
Let them dream of playing in the big leagues. Are their chances high? No. Do fractional statistics about their chances of playing SS for a living on the Yankees matter to a 10-year old? Nope. Encourage them to dream big.
Utilize team sports to teach lessons. Teamwork. Encouraging others. Dusting yourself (and others) off when you fail. Overcoming struggles and losses. Celebrating little and big wins. Building (and re-building) confidence.
I’ve seen it and said it 1 million times:
Parents ruin youth sports.
Don’t be that parent.
My rules for being a good sports (or other extra-curricular) parent:
1. Cheer for your player and their teammates.
Now, I admit that I break rule number 1. I don’t have it all figured out but I’m working on it. When I’m a grandparent, I’ll nail it.
When the game is over. Tell them you love them and that you enjoyed watching them play. Mean it.
They’re going to strike out. They’re going to make errors. They’re going to *insert every mistake you can think of for your preferred sport*.
Tell them you’re proud of them.
Some of the best lessons my boys have learned have come from things that have happened in the participation of activities with others. I’m thankful for those lessons, some of which I can’t teach on my own.
However, there are a couple I can teach; your mileage may vary…
Lessons that I have on my plate to teach them:
1. Love God
2. Know that God loves you.
3. Love your neighbor.
4. Know that your family loves you.
If I can get them to understand those, the rest has a good chance of working itself out.
If I ever make it my goal of teaching them that their worth is based on their performance, I failed. (And trust me, I have)
“I love you and I enjoyed watching you play.” – dad
If you can do that, you’re gonna nail being a sports parent.
My apologies, this tweet storm probably would have been a little more suited for an email or a blog post.
I guess the moral of the story is this: baseball is fun. Go play catch with your kid (or do whatever else it is that they love to do).