Teach Your Children Well
Posted by Ken Krause
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been seeing several posts and discussions about sportsmanship and the lack thereof. I’m not talking about umpire abuse, which I’ve talked about before, or parents getting into screaming matches or even fistfights on the sidelines.
Instead, the issue has to do with all the sing-song cheering that goes on in the dugout.
Now, let me say from the outset that I’m not a huge fan of that type of cheering. I personally find it annoying and a distraction. I’d much rather have my players focused on studying the pitcher and looking for defensive tendencies than worrying about what rhymes they’re going to scream at the tops of their lungs.
That doesn’t make cheering wrong, necessarily, it’s just not my cup of tea. Then again, neither is Metallica, although a lot of other people seem to like them.
Still, if doing the cheers makes it more fun for the girls then I say have it. I’ll deal.
The only caveat is that you should be cheering for your team, not against the other team or insulting them in some way. And that’s where it seems to be going wrong more and more these days.
There has always been an element of that in the sport. I remember hearing cheers about pitchers rolling the ball in or the infamous “siren” when a runner stole a base back in the day. Those are things you have to learn to shake off.
But in today’s world it seems like it’s getting a lot nastier, and a lot more personal.
The problem is you’re not just setting a tone for a team in a game. Coaches who allow or encourage that type of behavior are teaching their players that, well, it’s perfectly fine to be a jerk to others if it gets you what you want.
Is that really the takeaway we want to give our players?
People always talk about how playing sports teaches the concept of sportsmanship and fair play, qualities that are essential to a higher-functioning society.
In these cases, however, that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s going the other way.
An entire generation built on making yourself feel better by putting others down or doing whatever you want no matter how it affects others does not lead to a better society. Quite the opposite.
There is simply no reason for this type of behavior. Instead, sports should be teaching our young people that they can support their teammates while respecting those on the other side.
They should also be teaching that punching down on someone who is struggling is just wrong. Yes, that pitcher may be slower than you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s your job to point it out to the entire field and make her feel bad about herself.
Instead, appreciate that she’s doing the best she can in that moment. Instead, have some empathy for her, and think about how you would feel if you were her and others were yelling their nastiness at you in front of the crowd.
The same goes for making fun of a player who made an error or struck out on a bad pitch. Celebrate what your side did without pointing out the flaws of theirs.
Because someday, in some other situation, like a new job, she may very well be you. And you’re going to hope your coworkers will help you instead of simply jeering and telling the rest of the company how badly you suck.
Coaches, if you hear this sort of thing coming out of your players shut it down immediately. I get that you may not even notice what they’re saying, especially if you tend to tune that noise out like I do. But someone on the staff should be able to notice it and address it.
If they don’t, parents don’t hesitate to bring it up to the coach. After all, that’s your daughter and her friends/teammates.
You want them to grow up to be decent human beings, and to think about the world they’re going to leave for Keith Richards and Willie Nelson someday.
They need to learn how to make the world a better place than they found it, and their behavior during games (especially if there is a mismatch in talent) is a great place to start.
I know some will say “The world is a tough place and the little snowflakes need to toughen up.” But it’s only tough if we all collectively allow it to be.
If each person does a little bit every day to make the world a little better the cumulative effect will be immense. For softball players, they can start by cheering FOR their team rather than AGAINST their opponents – either individually or as a team.
Teach your children well. Because the lessons they’re learning on the field today can have a big impact on who they become as adults.
Posted in General Thoughts, Sportsmanship
Tags: Keith Richards, kindness, Metallica, positivity, sing-song cheers, Sportsmanship, Willie Nelson