Tuesday, May 17, 2016

En Garde!

It's amazing at times to see the number of sporting activities available to kids. I recall baseball in the spring/summer, football in the fall, basketball and hockey in the winter.

Now there's a plethora of sports to chose from. Baseball now competes with LaCrosse as the spring sport of choice. I have some opinions as this might be a good thing as baseball quickly becomes an "elitist" sport shortly after middle school. You can only put nine people on the field at a time and only bat nine. Substitution rules are cumbersome and result in a total of, 30ish kids making up a varsity/jv squad. It's a lot of standing around as well. Lacrosse places 11 players on a field with ample substitutions, etc. to get lots of kids involved. There are also roles for everyone. There's a lot less standing around on a given day as well.

...digressing, I didn't intend for this post to be a diatribe on why baseball will (rightfully) soon be a lesser youth sport. Instead, there are so many options that are now becoming affordable to youth. Golf, martial arts (my son is in kung fu and fencing), archery, track and field as something other than a school activity, swimming, tennis, raquetball, pickleball, running, floor hockey. It's interesting, enabling the engagement of kids and teaching them to be physical, but also handle the adversities that come with playing a sport.

I still feel that team sports are necessary to develop a sense of obligation, learn to pick and coach others up and handle responsibility and adversity when things don't go well. My son plays baseball. I left the choice to him and he took it so I am letting him play the season out. He hates it though. Even in 4th grade it becomes elitist. The coach's kid, while decent, is no superstar. Yet, bats lead-off, gets starting and relieving pitching duties.

 It reminds me a lot of the nepotistic bullsh*t that went on in high school for me. Coach's kid was the starting QB for football. The kids' posse got to play all the supporting roles. For me, it was a big lesson in adversity. I held in there. Got some honorable conference mentions. Baseball, killed my spirit though. I made the team sophomore year and rode the proverbial pine the whole season (guess what, the head fb coach was the sophomore baseball coach).

In hindsight I'm grateful to have had such adversity. It's part of the recipe that made me what I am today. It's the part of the recipe that I see when I watch my son play baseball. I don't count his balls and strikes. I count how he handles the different situations.

Touché, baseball. I see you dying a slow death with more engaging and less elitist sports coming available. Hopefully these new opportunities will teach that life has challenges as much as you have.