Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where has the fun gone?

Excuse for a minute while I pull out my soap box because I have something to get off my chest. When did little league baseball stop being fun? This past summer I have really noticed that it doesn't seem like the coaches, kids, fans or umpires are having nearly as much fun as they used to. The other night I was umpiring a boys 12 fall ball game. It was between two fairly good teams. One team had a coach who didn't say one good thing the entire night. There was no constructive criticism. There was just yelling!! If I was a parent of a kid on this team, I would have pulled my kid off the field. At one point, a kid hit a screaming line drive to the center fielder. He crushed it but he hit it right at him. The coach started yelling at the kid for not getting around on the ball quicker. Really? Are you kidding me? What happened to a pat on the butt and telling the kid "Nice stroke, keep your head up." I don't understand when the mentality of little league baseball change. When I was a kid, I played National Blue which was as high as you could play in our league. We were a pretty good team. We took it seriously. We wanted to win. But it was fun. Our coaches understood that it was their jobs to teach us the fundamentals of the game and get us ready for high school. Winning was nice but it wasn't the most important thing. Sure, if we didn't have our heads in a game, we would get yelled at but it wasn't nearly as brutal as it is today. As an outsider looking in, I am nervous about my son playing baseball when he is old enough. I am all for tough love but the coaches today are so focsued on winning they forget that their main job is the fundamentals. Not to teach a 10 year old to throw a curve ball. And even though there is a time a place for coaches to yell, there is no place where are kid should be asked if he is stupid for making a mistake. As an umpire, I have to remind myself at times there as long as the coaches don't physically harm the players there is nothing I can do. If the parents want to put their children in that type of situation, who am I to say anything about it. But I will tell you that I have been around little league baseball for my entire life. Kids are not having as much fun as they used to. Sure, I think the kids still like the game but not with the same zeal we did when I played as a kid. When I get to the point where my son starts playing baseball, I am going to coach. Not because I think I know the most about the game. I don't. But I can teach the fundamentals as well as anyone and I really think that, and having fun, are the most important aspects to little league baseball.

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