We’ve all seen it. Crying in softball. Typically speaking, many folks think that girls are just criers, and that since softball is such an emotional game – the crying is just par for the course. Then, of course there are all the quotes and sayings that say things like, “There no crying in baseball,” or that equate crying in sports to poor sportsmanship and bad attitudes.
The last tournament I attended, the losing teams’ pitcher came off the field after losing in an international tie breaker, throwing her glove against the fence, screeching and pouting at her teammates with a spiteful tongue and finally retreating to the parking lot where her mom came and coddled her crying for what seemed like an hour. And, in the eyes of everyone watching – she looked like a spoiled 14-year-old brat, who in her mind had some sort of elitist syndrome that made it ‘okay’ to blame the loss on everyone else on the team. They lost by one point, in what was an amazing competitive game, and she did a stellar job pitching. The crying, especially with 4 games left to play that day, was uncalled for and excessive in this case. (BTW, they lost the rest of their games that day, likely because the attitude never changed)
Also recently, I watched an undefeated season team lose the region championship game in the last inning, and many of the teammates wiped away tears of what were certainly disappointment, as they graciously shook hands with the opposing teams and walked away with their heads held high. No one was disabled with tears, or showed poor sportsmanship. It was simply a general washing of disappointment.
These examples sort of break down the two different types of crying in softball. Crying because you lost, or because you are disappointed is natural and normal. When you watch the championship game of the Women’s College World Series the cameras also take shots of the disappointed team that lost the game, and there is always a few shimmers of tears in the corners of the eyes of players. The difference is that none of these girls are chest heaving, snot coming out of their nose crying. At least not in front of others.
Losing is disappointing. But losing a game – even a big game, is simply part of softball. Every game played on every given field, in every given venue has a winner and a loser. After all, that is what the scoreboard is there for. And while ‘getting used’ to losing, or accepting constant defeat is definitely not the way to ever WIN, it IS part of the game.
A young girl in a 14U tournament told me recently that her team has played in 5 tournaments this fall, and hasn’t won a game yet. She was frustrated, and disappointed but not crying. In fact, she was just determined. They were a brand new team, and I told her that ‘their day was coming.” I imagine when that first win finally comes, this girl with be crying with tears of joy. After working so hard for so long for something – seeing it come to fruition, is definitely worth a few tears of joy.
But all the crying because you struck out, or made an error, or because your team is behind, or because you lost a game – does very little to help your team. In the words of Abby Lee Miller, “save your tears for the pillow.” If you walk into your dugout crying, or exit your dugout crying like a baby – you are only adding to the negative energy on the field.
And quite frankly, there is a time and a place and even a barometer for crying in softball and in all sports. Disappointment certainly brings tears, and good players and good teams use disappointment to ACHIEVE MORE! So wallow in it for a bit – and then LET IT GO!
Another point important to make, if you, your child or your team is crying is to find out why. Are they crying because they didn’t do their best and are filled with regret? Are they crying because they are mad and frustrated, in a state of blame and shame? Are they crying because they are angry at other teammates?
Or are they crying because they are simply disappointed?
Also extremely important, is the reaction to crying. Tolerating excessive crying and coddling it, while often a knee jerk reaction for parents, is never the answer – especially if the team and player went out there and left it all on the field. Not that the kids shouldn’t be allowed to process the emotions, but they should always when it comes to softball and life, be taught to hold their eyes on the future. What already happened is already over, cannot be changed, and only holds the meaning it is allowed to hold. Does it define you, or a team?
One of the great lessons in softball is that there is ALWAYS someone BETTER than you are. Which means there is never time to stop and feel complacent or to discontinue striving, or to believe for a second that there is nothing left to strive for. There is always something MORE waiting in the wings. Another mountain to climb, another goal to achieve, another chance, another skill to hone, another game to win, another day to rise to the occasion.
So, back to the original question. Is crying okay in softball? The answer. Yes, there is a time and a place and even an acceptable level of crying in softball, in every sport. That being said, there are limitations and the disappointment ALWAYS needs to be used personally by the players (and coaches) to strive for more next time.
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!