2013-03-07 / Editorials
Fun should always come first in youth sports
Whether it’s baseball or softball, Opening Day is full of possibility. Everyone is in first place, uniforms sparkle and the fields have never looked better.
Thousand Oaks and Conejo Valley little leagues and Newbury Park PONY Baseball began their seasons last Saturday; Thousand Oaks Girls Softball got underway the week before.
There’s a lot to be said about youth sports. Kids experience what it means to be a team player. They learn that practice makes perfect. They discover that, like in life, the calls aren’t always in their favor.
Despite all the positives, however, there are “those parents” who see a baseball or softball game as the perfect time and place to do their Bobby Knight impression. YouTube is full of videos of coaches and parents who went bonkers because an umpire missed a call or a player made a mistake. Some even get violent.
It’s hard for parents not to get wrapped up in the heat of the moment. We’re a competitive society. Given the choice between winning and losing, we want to win. What’s more, youngsters should learn the importance of doing their best in any endeavor—especially in competition.
But that doesn’t give grown-ups carte blanche to disregard the rules of civility and pitch a hissy fit in the midst of a game. Nor is it okay for parents to berate a coach, a player or an official for what’s happening on the field. Take a deep breath. The kids are playing recreational sports, not storming the beaches of Normandy.
Children learn by watching and will certainly imitate Mom or Dad. Realistically, most kids on the field will play youth sports for such a short period in their lives that it totally defeats the purpose if parents spend the entire time agonizing over the standings or a particular play. Ask most kids after a game whether they won or lost and chances are they’re more interested in the snack than the score.
To the coaches: We wish you the best of luck in the coming season. Thank you for volunteering your time to help teach youngsters the joy of hitting, catching and throwing a ball (a task not to be left to the faint of heart). Your efforts are appreciated.
To the parents: Umpires will certainly miss calls and players will certainly miss plays. Losing your cool over that only worsens the situation. Please, enjoy this (very short) time in your child’s life. We don’t want to see you on YouTube.
To the kids: Have fun! We know you’re ready to play.
Now, let’s play ball!