Oh, we know who you are. You are the moms and dads who feel superior because your 10-year-old is playing on some fancy schmancy organization team where you are shelling out big bucks to make sure she is up against the best competition for her age group. There’s lots of money, and lots of travel and lots of pressure being put on her – being replaced is usually in the back of her mind because many of these organizations are always looking for the next best thing. And you snub, or thumb your nose at the rest of us, the masses playing local lower level tournaments that won’t equate to making Nationals across the country.
We even hear you. Sometimes, when you are slumming at one of our tournaments, maybe you came just for practice, or maybe your coach was trophy hunting, and you see our girls play and shake your heads in disgust because they aren’t the very best players on the team. They may miss routine plays, your pitcher may strike them out in droves adding a perfect game to her resume, and you always hope that come bracket play – you get to play us because it’s pretty much an automatic win to move you forward toward the ‘ship.’
Your comments don’t go unnoticed. Your sense of pride and strut from having kids that are so much better than our kids doesn’t go unnoticed. We hear the “oh this is just a rec ball team,” or “why do they even bother coming out here,” and hear the snickers when your coaches pull their players off the base on purpose to help us get an out, or put in the kids to play who are normally pulling splinters out of their butt because you know…we suck….
We aren’t newbies. We have had kids play at every level of this sport. We have seen it all. And we have always started out with a “Rec Ball Team” because local organizations do a really shitty job at keeping things competitive and supporting girls softball past a certain age. And the girls LOVE the game. They LOVE the game as much as your kid does. They might not be as good as your kid. They might not go to private lessons. But they are 12, and they are learning, and they find the same joys spending a Saturday at the ballpark with their friends playing this game as your child does.
Us parents, love watching the play just as much as you love watching your kid play. We pack the coolers and the tents and the snacks. Sure, we may celebrate some of the littler things, like our first win or two, or the second baseman who is finally ‘gettting it’ or the long ball that one of our outfielders actually caught instead of having to chase it to the fence while your players gets an in the park homerun. We may cheer a little too loud when they make the routine plays that we have been working on. We may not hold tryouts, we may not cut everyone, we may believe in equal playing time for all the girls, and we may NEVER be a TEAM that your superstar would ever EVER consider picking up on.
And we see you. We hear you. We see your smirky sarcastic faces. We see your big peacock tail in all it’s glory when the game is over, feeling sorry for us and beaming with pride because your daughter’s jersey has a really special name on the front. And we also see your daughters mimicking this behavior….
But here’s the thing. You don’t have the right to say that lesser players are watering down softball. Go play at a higher level tournament. You don’t have the right to say an 11 or 12 or even 14-year-old child shouldn’t be playing ball because they aren’t planning to go D1, or even planning to try out for a school ball team. You don’t have the right to decide who should, or can play and who shouldn’t. Because in case you have forgotten, these are kids, and childhood is about trying as many new things as possible, and learning new things, and playing games. (And yes softball is a game).
So your kid is better than mine. So what? So she works harder at it. What gives you or anyone else the right to just decide that kids don’t deserve to be out there? How do you know that one day the tables may turn and your child may quit from being burned out and my child will still be playing? How do we know what our kids are capable of unless we let them try?
Watering down softball? HA! There are plenty of tournaments to choose from. Maybe you should talk to your coach about trophy hunting and going out and playing with the bigger teams that are even bigger and better than you. Maybe then your peacock tail wouldn’t be so colorful at the end of the game. THE BEST THING WE CAN DO FOR ANY OF OUR SOFTBALL PLAYERS is MAKE THIS SPORT as BIG AS POSSIBLE!
The point is that Rec leagues are letting our girls down. Its tough to find Rec leagues that offer good learning opportunities past 8 or 10U anymore. That doesn’t mean our kids should quit, does it? There used to be a time where kids didn’t know what their ‘game’ was or their ‘skill’ was until they were much older. Suddenly today, it’s okay to classify a 10-year-old as something. And having been around this sport for well over a decade, I can tell you this – most of the superstar 10-year-olds you are spending thousands of dollars on to play a game they love will quit before they graduate high school. So chill out just a little.
And don’t feel sorry for us sucky teams. We are learning. We are having fun. So much fun. So So SO MUCH FUN!
Every once in a while you may hear the archaic ping of a Walmart metal bat hitting the ball from one of our teammates, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to shake their head in pity. Our girls have every right to be on that field, playing their game to the best of their ability without being held accountable to the softball snobbery of other parents who are gaining some sort of ego boost by strutting around their ‘better’ kid.
We are all here to GROW the game. And the love of the game cannot be measured by the name on the front of the jersey of the skill level of the player. The dreams these kids dream are all the same, and the pride they feel from playing this game is the same too.