Wilson, my younger son, played his first baseball game of the season last night. The Botetourt Mudcats – as his team is known – got off to an impressive start, defeating their rivals by ten runs. Wil only got to bat once, and, unfortunately, he struck out – but, there’s always the next game.
I love sports – I plan on attending the Salem Red Sox game tomorrow at the invitation of a friend, I’ll watch the Indianapolis 500 next month, you won’t pry me from the television when the Alabama Crimson Tide begin their football season, and don’t even think about calling me in the middle of a Kentucky basketball game. But, I don’t love all sports – if given the option between a root canal and watching soccer, I’ll opt for the root canal every time, and I’d much rather watch paint dry than watch golf. And, I don’t like the way many people act about sports – whether it’s poor sportsmanship or making sports a god, some people take sports far too seriously (and that’s coming from a guy who screams and yells and rants during a Kentucky game).
As the baseball season begins for many youngsters, I’d like to offer some thoughts about the diamond.
Don’t make ball your idol.
Wil’s team practices on Wednesday nights. Tough. We have a previous engagement that night, an engagement far more important than a game, an engagement with eternal consequences. Teach your children that God is more important than sports.
Your child is a child.
Don’t berate him for striking out. Don’t jump on her when she misses the pop fly. They’re children; urge them to do their best and no more.
Your child will likely never play in the majors.
Sure, it’s nice to dream, and it would be nice to happen. But, the odds are against it. Don’t expect perfection.
Play by the rules.
Don’t try to sneak something past a coach or an umpire. Play by the rules everyone else does. Last night at Wil’s game, the coach of the other team pointed out a rule to the umpire, a rule that hurt our team but a rule that is still a rule.
The umpires aren’t perfect.
They’re going to make mistakes – in fact, I think an umpire made a bad call last night (a bad call that helped our team, but a bad call all the same). They’re just helping out so your child can have fun. Cut them some slack.
Coaches are volunteers.
The coaches aren’t getting paid for all the hard work they put into helping your child have fun. Thank him and help him; don’t berate him.
Keep your cool.
There’s no sense in embarrassing your child and yourself by becoming belligerent when things don’t go your way. Keep calm. If someone else makes you angry, remember that you don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.
Show good sportsmanship.
Don’t be ugly to the other kids. Be kind. Be gracious in defeat and humble in victory.
The purpose of youth sports is to teach the fundamentals of the game, a love of sports, and to have fun. Don’t ruin it for your kid!
Pray for safety.
From pop flies to sliding, the baseball field provides ample opportunities for injury. Pray for the safety of all those involved.
Go have a great season. We intend to. God bless!