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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taking The High Road Can Be So Hard

Competition can bring out the best in the competitors. It can also bring out the worst in some competitors, parents, and fans. As a coach I try to teach the kids that God gave us sports so that we can realize our potential. It's also a tool to teach sportsmanship, teamwork, and just have fun. Winning will be the end result when you put all the above pieces of the puzzle together.

We overwhelm ourselves with winning. As fans and parents winning sometimes becomes the only thing that we forget to accept losing as a chance for our kids to learn. This attitude eventually reflects in our children, after all they model their behavior after their parents.

The other night my son's baseball team pulled off a win to make it into the 2nd round of the playoffs and the other team was crushed. This team had beaten us the previous two outings that we met in very close games. This nigh time had just expired and so they couldn't play a 6th inning. Knowing that there was one more inning that could be played the other coach tried to convince the umpire to bend the rules and allow for the last inning to be played. Obviously the other team was crushed because they only lost by 1 point. It is hard for me to blame the coach for trying cause you get caught up in the moment and if there was a few seconds that would have allowed them to start the inning then why not ask. The problem I have is with the character of some of the players and parents after.

Once the umpire had explained about the time expiring then it is obvious that we play by the rules and we don't bend them in order to win. I can't say what the opposing coach told his players. I could only hope that he told them that they played a great game and put in a great effort. What I do know is that at least one parent tried to take some happiness away from my son and I. Here's what was said in front of my boy:
Me: "Congratulations you guys played a great game. These 2 teams always play each other tough and it makes for an exciting game."
Other Parent: "Yeah it was a great game but they should have let them played the last inning. It wasn't right for them to end it."
Other Kid: "What a cheesy win!"
Other Parent: "Well anyways we beat you guys twice and you won this one. Your coach shouldn't have talked to the umpires about ending the game"
Me: "Oh well great game"

Yes I walked away. Keep in mind that our coach had not said one word to the umpire. The umpire looked at his watch and called it. I knew that they were so bitter that it blinded them to what was really going on so it was not worth arguing. I really wanted to say something because of the fact of what the kid said and the fact that she had the audacity to say this in front of my kid who was really happy to win. The adolescent in me wanted to say well we won when it counted and it's playoffs so it's win or go home but I didn't. I had to remember that I set an example for my kid and my athletes.

It is very tough to take that high road especially as a parent that feels their kid is being attacked. What kept me from doing it is thinking about the hurt that they had just experienced. I can't blame the kid for what he said after listening to the parent. Reacting to what they said can have easily made a bad situation worse. I put my arm around my son and explained to him that in life sometimes people react negatively cause they're hurt. "Misery loves company" and so they will try to bring you down with them. You have to rise above it and not allow for anyone to take away your joy. He understood that showing good sportsmanship is on both the losing and winning end. I was happy to see that what they said didn't affect him but I know had I reacted, which was the easiest thing to do, it would have affected him negatively.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's Only T-Ball

Don't repeat those words around the Burbank Parochial League, http://www.bplbaseball.com. This league has one of the most competitive t-ball divisions I've seen. This, I believe, has been one of the biggest draw to this league besides being one of the few winter leagues around. For the most part parents and coaches are civil.

I have the pleasure of managing for a second year the St. Robert Bellarmine Mets. This is a great group of kids who have managed to go undefeated through the regular season. In t-ball you get some kids that are more interested in playing with the grass than paying attention to the game. That was not the case with my kids. Okay, maybe just a few but they kept it to a minimum. I want to credit this to a new approach I took with the kids. I also coach coach for my kids' school and since it's a catholic school, I'm required to take some training courses. Thank God I did because I ran across the University of Notre Dame's "Play Like A Champion" training. You can find more information at http://www.playlikeachampion.org.

I was able to implement what I learned and had a successful season with all the teams I coach from my win-less girls' basketball team to my undefeated t-ball team. How can someone say that their win-less team had a successful season? I also use to judge success based on records. This program kept me focused on what my job as a coach of young children really is and that if I do my job right I will develop champions.

Whether we were winning or not I was able to teach and keep the game fun for the kids. What my kids have learned is that sports is about competition. When people compete there's always one that is crowned but we can not forget about what that competition did for everyone. It brings out everyone's full potential. For that reason is why we always pray before a game and ask God to keep us focused so that we can give it our best and bring out the best in our competitor.

Competition can also bring out the worst in some people when not approached the right way. We get into this win at all cost attitude. I know sometimes my parents freak out when I do this but I try to mix up the players and their positions. I don't want to win and find out that I hurt someone's feelings because I didn't play them enough. I want to encourage the smaller kids to come back to the sport.

Well my t-ball team starts playoffs next weekend and if they lose in the first round I wouldn't care, okay just a little. I already know that my team is a success. Today the kids told me what they have learned and that is to have fun, be a good sport, try our best, pray that everyone is safe, and thank the parent who brought the snacks :).