Members of the? Twitter Moms community were asked to consider the following question as the summer vacation and sports season begins.? ?As a parent, how do you encourage and reinforce the positive aspects of youth sports??
Last weekend our family went to a Blue Claws game. In case you don’t know, they are a Phillie farm team. Funniest things were my listening to clueless hubby insisting that a grand slam was a home run and my daughter asking what the white lines by the bases were. Oh, well….
I was a teacher before I retired ten years ago. I used to coach/supervise my classes’ intramural softball. We made it to the playoffs several times and even got to go to Phillie’s games. I suppose that helped jog my memory.
I didn’t know much about coaching, but I picked the best and played them regularly. One day an administrator complained I didn’t play everyone–games were after school and about thirty minutes. I asked him to let me have a second team . He refused. I kept doing things my way.
I usually started with 30 kids (co-ed but mostly boys) then cut the number down to max. 12-15. I picked the BEST no extra consideration for minorities (like girls). If I did find a good player, who happened to be a girl, I opted to buddy her with another girl. The same administrator came to me again, of course more complaints, more questions like “Why didn’t I let everyone who came for tryouts play?” I gave him the simple math, 30 minutes, normally six innings, common sense. Even major league rosters have a finite number.
The next issue was selection. No brainer in this one, I told him I used the same system school teams use. He was flabbergasted. Let’s face it Babe Ruth, Joe DiMagio, Willie Mays, and Duke Snyder weren’t kept on the bench so rookies could play.
The kids loved being on the team and played their best. I actually had one boy, a chronic absentee, who only came to school on the days there was either a practice or a game. He truly was an excellent catcher. I laughed when the vice-principal suggested I schedule more practices. Too bad I couldn’t.
One day I was absent and one of the other teachers took them out to practice. One boy threw a rock and injured another boy. He knew my rules about good sportsmanship and good behavior. I came back the next day and threw him off the team. His excuse was it was an accident. He complained and said I never told him that would happen if he threw a rock. My logic was it was his choice and he was responsible for his own actions.
Naturally that administrator came to me to pressure me to return him to the team. It seems that he got a call from mommy and daddy. They did not think their son had done anything to deserve any punishment even though the boy he hit injured his eye and needed medical care for a while.
Well, I told him that he could do anything he wanted and put it right back in his lap. Next I reminded him that I was not paid and under no obligation to stay after school EVER for intramurals and I would not risk the liability of any suit naming me– so if that boy was there I wouldn’t be. I hated being so high-handed and having to say that, but someone had to draw the line.
Parents and coaches should be positive influences. Youth sports gives children much. ? ?A ?sense of pride, good sportsmanship, clean competition, and learning how to win or lose are all important things everyone carries through life.
I honestly believe in rules and responsibility. I hope you do as well. ?I’d love to hear from you on how you would have handled the situation, perhaps if you would have done something differently and why.
The Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports program, www.responsiblesports.com, provides resources for parents and coaches at? to help children reap the full benefits of playing a team sport. The online community incorporates blogs, videos, and best practices on youth sports topics that provide practical, real-world advice. Parents and coaches also can complete coursework on positive sports mentoring that offers best practices for handling challenging sports scenarios. The program was Created by Liberty Mutual in partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance, US Youth Soccer, USA Hockey and the Amateur Softball Association.