The only part of these games I hate are when the parents take it too seriously. I've been to games where the kids have cried, where they look downright miserable because their parents are the ones in the stands trying to be the 4th coach and scolding them for striking out, or making an error. I've also been to games where the kids looks at their parents in the stands more than they do down the third base line to see the signs from their real coach. It starts young, in t-ball, and it only gets worse as the kid gets older. These parents need to relax and stop punishing their kids who are trying. If there's one thing I have learned about baseball is that it is a game of failure. Success is measured in numbers, and a great hitter still fails 7 out of 10 times. Parents need to remember that games are suppose to be fun, especially at the younger levels. Sometimes the parents get so caught up that it ruins the experience for the kid. It's really sad that I have seen this, not just once but dozens upon dozens of times. There was one parent who would even ground their kid if he made an error at short. He was 15 years old...
Rick Reilly is a write that I look up to. He writes beyond the game and into the souls of the people who play the game. He wrote an article that characterized the type of parents I am talking about, and he did it in such a humorous way that I have to share it with you guys. The following is an excerpt from his book, Hate Mail from Cheerleaders, and shows how ridiculous these parents are.
Parental Discretion Advised
April 2, 2001
Two fathers stand watching their kids. "Well, the wife and I have finally come to a decision," says the one with the Reebok headband. "Yeah?" says the one in the Nike cap. "Amber's gonna concentrate 100 percent on tennis from now on. Her coach says she's gotta pick one sport right now, or she'll get left behind the other girls."
"She looks like she's got good quickness," says the cap.
"Her kinesiologist says she's quicker than Venus at this age," says the headband, beaming.
"We've decided the same thing about Ike and golf," says the cap. "If he's going to stay ahead of the other kids, he's got to specialize now."
"His hand-eye looks good," says the headband.
"His physiologist says his muscle fibers twitch faster than Tiger's!"
"Golf's fine, I guess," says the headband, "but our financial planner says for girls, tennis it is. With Venus and Serena pushing the global marketing envelope, our yearly income should be seven figures!"
"You mean her income."
"Right. Her income."
"Ike's psychologist has told us he's gifted in lots of other sports besides golf, but there's no time," says the cap. "You don't want to be spinning your wheels."
"Course not!" says the headband. "You don't want to be shut outta the best camps-"
"And the best leagues-"
"And the national teams."
"I mean, yeah," says the cap, "it looks like my wife will have to quit her job just to drive Ike to all his golf tournaments, but there's no Tiger without Earl, right?"
"Tell me about it!" says the headband. "I'm working three jobs just to pay for all this stuff- Amber's pilates are killin' me! -but it's all about the kids, man."
"I hear that. Like, Ike's media tutor won't be cheap, but it'll free up his afternoons for his bunker workshops."
"Hey, you're gonna have expenses," says the headband. "We ripped out the bedrooms upstairs and put an indoor tennis cage, but whaddya gonna do? The little girl across the street has a live-in volleying partner!"
"God! That's just plain overparenting!"
"The wife and I feel that if we put in the hours and the money now, Ike will be good enough to go straight to the PGA Tour out of high school and not waste time going to college. Not that college is a bad thing."
"Nah, not really bad," says the headband. "But Amber's career strategist thinks she can do Wimbledon by 14. That's what's important. Did you see the MLS kid whose parents let him miss a game the other day because of his prom?"
"Sounds like somebody's got their priorities mixed up," says the cap. "I mean, I'm sure Ike will be a little disappointed he'll have to leave home and move in with the Leadbetters soon, but some decisions a father has to make for his son."
"I know, I know," says the headband. "I'm a little bummed that Amber won't get to play lacrosse or basketball or, even, I don't know, piano, but how can she do that and put in the 13 hours a day that will get us to the level we need?"
"She needs, right."
"Hey, I only wish my dad had done this for me," says the cap.
"Hell, yeah!" says the headband. "I know this dad who's renting a house on a lake this summer. Says he and the family are just gonna fish and skip stones!"
"What a waste of time!"
"I mean, what are you gonna do with your kid for two weeks on a lake? I wouldn't know what to say to Amber for two weeks!"
"Most summers from now on, Ike will be playing the mini Asian tours, to build up his tolerance for travel and foreign foods. He'll need it when he gets his Gulfstream IV,"
There's a pause.
"Which one's yours, anyway?" says the cap.
"The little one in the pink diaper near the incubator," says the headband.
"Beautiful. Mine's in blue. With the nurse and the bottle."
"Hey, it's never too early to start, am I right?"