Most of us have been there, our four year old son (or daughter) at his first day of t-ball, all the family is there with camera in hand to snap some photos and videos in order to capture our child’s first foray into competitive sports.
Fast forward about three years and here they are hitting of the coaches soft tosses from about seventeen feet away, well some of them are. Some of them are swinging the bat and falling over, some of them are are standing there still as a statue too nervous and afraid to do anything and all they hear are their parents and coaches yelling and screaming “swing”, “swing”, “what are you doing? Swing the bat!”. You get my point, by this age I think you should have a pretty good idea if your child is going to be any good at sports (well at least baseball, hence my example), or if they just aren’t cut out for it.
Don’t get me wrong, the kids that are good now may not even come close to making their Middle/High School teams and the kids that cant currently hit a beach ball to save their lives may one day end up in Cooperstown, but I digress…
Now I have been lucky, I have a son who excels in everything he does (especially sports)and being only 8 years old plays baseball, basketball, football and even golf on a competitive level. Now before you judge me on how busy his life is let me make one thing clear, I HAVE NEVER FORCED HIM TO DO ANYTHING! Everything that he does he has asked to do, whether he heard it from his friends, had a flyer advertising a local rec league sent home from school or saw it on TV . He started this at an early age playing t-ball at just three and a half years old and here we are nearly five years later and he’s playing (and beating) kids two years his senior. With all of this being said, I do make sure that his grades are on the up and up before he can do anything that resembles sports.
For the sake of this article we are going to focus on baseball and the kids who just aren’t cut out to be on the field in any way, shape or form (except for maybe picking daisies) and we can break them down into only two categories:
1) The kids who just aren’t that good however they still want to play for whatever reason (friends play, just love the game, etc.). I say let them play because eventually they will be told by a coach that they just aren’t good at the game by way of being cut from the team or they will realize this on their own and take to another activity.
2) The kids who FLAT OUT SUCK but Fathers (and sometimes Mothers) keep pushing them to play and keep telling them how good they are. These are the kids who have absolutely no fucking business being on the field and most of the time don’t even want to be on the field, but let me get more specific…
I see it, I see it all the time you have a kid trying out for a baseball team and they can’t pitch, hit or field and you hear the Father say things like “he’s having an off day” or “he’s just getting over a cold” now most coaches evaluating tryouts have been around enough to tell the difference between an off day and an OFF day. Still these parents think that their son is the next Babe Ruth or Ted Williams and will give you every excuse in the book as to why their son is not performing at the level they swear he is at. Now most recreational baseball leagues will place a kid under 10 years old on a team regardless of their tryout performance and because of this they give the kids and their parents a false sense of talent. Then this false sense of talent turns into cockiness and when they try out for a travel team and are not picked it turns the kids and more so their parents into monsters and they go around town bending every ear they can get to listen and start the “Smear Coach so and so” campaign.
Then we are back with the excuses and adding in a rumor or two, we hear things like “the only reason he didn’t pick Tommy is because his wife doesn’t like my wife” or “we went to High School together and didn’t quite get along “then it turns into “he only picked little Mikey because his mom is hot and single”. Now I am not saying that this type of stuff doesn’t happen however (and most other travel ball coaches can attest to this) no travel baseball coach will pass on a good player for most personal reasons between them and their parents. The travel baseball community is so competitive and the pool of good players is very small That’s not me being an ignorant jerkoff, that’s the absolute fucking truth.
Let’s take it a step further…
Once you get into travel baseball it is a pretty closed community, a community that other parents want in on and are willing to say or do just about ANTHING to be welcomed into and once they are in they know that they have to keep up the act because unlike the recreational leagues there is no complaint department, the coach is the complaint department and he can tell you and your kid to go take a hike if you go to him and piss and moan over every little thing.
Now I have not been a part of this world too long only a few years, and I assume that the rest of the Country is like where I live (for privacy reasons I will just say the Mid-Atlantic area), however now that I manage a team I have had parents that I don’t even know knock on my door eight o’clock at night asking for a tryout or even a roster spot. I have had my son tell me that kids he wouldn’t normally play with befriend him at school only to have their parents contact me a week or two later inquiring about the team. I have had dads that have run in the same “cliques” for years try to become my best friend because they want in, I mean upper class people (I’m just an average middle class working guy) who wouldn’t even nod their heads at me in the past all of a sudden want to invite me out for beers or my wife and I out to dinner. I am not saying that these are bad people; it’s just the way the game is played. Then you have the parents who talk your ear off about how good a ball player their kid is, you know he’s a natural third basemen no I mean catcher, never mind he was born to play second base, all in the course of a month then you schedule a tryout and after only 20 minutes or so can just go ahead and check off box #10 (none of the above) with the previous nine boxes being all of the positions on the field.
Sometimes parents just need to realize that their kid is just not good enough at certain sports (except for soccer, but we will touch on that in my next post) and their talents lie elsewhere.
The Brutally Honest Dad