Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Little League Coaches

Good Morning. Tomorrow, my great friend and brother in law, Big M is scheduled for surgery to remove some very pesky cancer...good wishes...prayers....positive thoughts....he can beat this one.

I still have not made a complete decision about driving to tomorrow's game in the rain and snow. I am waiting for a phone call from Carol Brady for her sage advice. Again, if Greg Brady was going to pitch in the snow 6 hours away from home, would she gas up the station wagon and hit the turnpike? A conundrum.....yet as Big M faces surgery, I think that Buddy can pitch without me. I'll go to the hospital instead....it's the right thing to do. Problem solved....

Today's post is on little league coaches. I give two thumbs up to 99.9% of them. They are usually fathers, volunteers, and guys who care about the kids. Yet, there is a small percentage who are in it for the wrong reason. Clearly, I am not a man, therefore I do not have the entire picture of what it is like to be a father. I can only surmise as I watched my father, husband, brothers, friends, and so on parent their children in positive and meaningful ways. In contrast, I have also witnessed a number of passionate coaches who want to either promote their own child or win at any cost even at the age of 10 years old.

First, let's look at the "dad who coaches to play his son" phenomenon. He volunteers knowing that his son will be the pivotal kid in the line up. The boy always starts games and never sits on the bench. The kids usually gets a pass for bad language and behavior. The coach will sit other kids in favor of his own son. It is true that Buddy's dad coached him from 4 until 16 years old. However, Buddy suffered the consequences of his dad being the coach. He played less, hit lower in the line up, and was a bench sitter on a number of important occasions. As an accountant, dad created an Excel spreadsheet documenting the number of innings and positions the kids played to show that he did not favor his own son. On the contrary, Buddy played less. The documentation did not lie and for the most part, there were just a few controversies. (Obnoxious and delusional parents coming up in a future post).

The second type of little league coach was the "win at all costs, even if it means that I terrorize the kids in the process" coach. This coach used salty language and bullying techniques to motivate his 10 year-olds. I can distinctly remember staring at the coaches who would scream at the boys for errors, strike outs, and poor base running. They would try to intimate the opposing team and coaches. One incident that I call the "great clip board" drama included Buddy's dad as he had a disagreement with the opposing coach. The coach took the clip board and pushed it into dad's chest and hit him with it. Could this be construed as assault with a deadly clip board?

These incidents were few and far between, yet they happen. Kids leave the sport because they do not want the drama and they turn to lacrosse. It is a sad indictment on the quality of some of the volunteer coaches. My philosophy is volunteers are not professional coaches. A tiny percentage of the kids may become high school or college athletes. Therefore, the goal is to teach the boys to understand the game and teamwork, to learn listening skills and have an outlet for their energy and opportunity to have fun. That's it...sound simple, right? Just be careful of flying clip boards when you attend your next game...they can be dangerous.

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