Daddy Ball Softball
We, at SIFG, hear a lot of complaints, rants and annoyances in relation to the perception that many competitive teams today are playing “Daddy Ball Softball!!” (This term by the way is inter-changeable with Mommy-Ball, because we KNOW lots of moms coach too!) In fact, recently we had a parent call on us to ask about his daughter joining our travel team and the first question out of his mouth was whether we were a “daddy ball,” team or not.
We get it! The perceived inequities in softball are vast! As parents, its easy to get upset, offended, frustrated, critical, angry, spiteful, and protective when we feel like someone, or something is against our daughters. The term “Daddy Ball,” has been construed in order to give an off-handed description of a team that is led by a father, who gives his own daughter, and his daughters friends special treatment, and it ALWAYS implies something negative.
While I totally understand the politics of softball and the perils of ‘daddy ball,’ as a wife to a daddy ball coach, I see things a little differently. Today, I offer you a different perspective.
When I think of ‘daddy ball,’ (or mommy ball) I think of my husband coaching his daughters and their teams. I see a man who was once fearful that he would not have a genuine way to connect with his daughters within his own comfort zone, who now does so lovingly through softball. I see an immense, unbreakable bond between father and daughter that is growing every day, that has spanned most of the formative years of my daughters lives, that encourages them to participate in something positive and healthy, that has gone miles to keep them out of trouble and that is something we can do as a FAMILY! I see the memories made from our family being threaded together by the leather laces of softball gloves, the strong friendships made along the way, and the amazing gift that my daughters have been given by having an involved, participating father in their lives every darn step of their way.
I see a daddy spending nearly every single second of his ‘free time,’ empowering, encouraging, coaching, mentoring, and loving his daughters by being part of their lives. I see a daddy who is willing to sit on a bucket for hours at a time so his daughters can pitch, a daddy who happily spends his weekends at the ball park with a pack of hormonal girls, who spends his hard earned money supporting his daughters love of the game. I see a daddy who spends more time in the batting cages on the weekends than watching college football, a dad who is always available no matter how tired he gets to go throw in the yard, who has taught his daughters to overcome their fears, and to never under estimate their talents. I see a daddy who is not afraid to push his daughters a little further, who is a warm shoulder to cry on, and who always loves his daughters more than he loves the game. I see a daddy who gives his daughters lots of hugs, cheers them on, shares inside jokes and laughs with them, who is beaming with pride for his daughters.
I also see little girls who have grown up feeling confident and capable. I see so many girls without caring and loving fathers who have found their place on our teams and are loved by my husband, as if they are his own daughters. I see a man who is being a positive role model for young girls – fighting against the negative connotations of dead beat dads, who teaches each of the girls on his team time and time again that they need to believe in themselves, work hard, and never give up.
Mostly, I see passion and love alive and well on the softball field through the willing dedication of a VOLUNTEER father who has committed all of himself – to his daughters and the sport THEY love.
I also see the side of ‘daddy ball,’ that is not so easy. When the other girls get to go home from a bad tournament or practice, my daughters have to come home with their dad and coach. My daughters cannot miss practice, and more is expected of them as the coaches daughters than is of anyone else on the team. I see the backyard tears during hitting slumps, the slow and painful progress of learning new pitches in the yard, the inability to every really get away from the realities, expenses and stresses of coaching a team. I see a daddy who is constantly trying to balance the coach and the father roles as carefully as possible in order to serve his daughters in the best way possible. I see a daddy who through the willingness to put himself OUT there, opens himself up to criticism, judgment and drama from those sitting on the sidelines, who at a moments notice will leap out of their seats when something doesn’t go exactly their way and cry, “Daddy Ball,” as a form of ridicule.
It’s not as easy as you might think to coach your own daughters! At the end of the day, if it weren’t for all the daddy ball and mommy ball coaches today – in other words, the PARENTS of players willing to give up their time, money and hearts to support girls softball, there wouldn’t be as many teams available as there are today!
While we at Softball is For Girls realize firsthand the ‘politics’ that can be involved in fast-pitch, we also believe that much of it is a matter of perception. And we support all the moms and dads out there taking strides to ensure their daughters (and our daughters) have a place to play BALL!
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As my daughters are multisport players, they have had many coaches through the years. I am forever indebted to these coaches who gave of their time to shape my daughters’ character as well as their love of sports. There were coaches who saw and fostered talent that we had missed in our children. There was tough coach who benched our daughter because she was not putting an appropriate amount of time in practice; I support this lesson. 100 % of these coaches loved their daughters. 92% of these coaches were fair to the children on the team; and 85% of these coaches put player development and fun above winning. Only one has been guilty of playing daddy ball. Overall, I have to say that we have had a good run.
Parent coaches give freely of their time. They attempt to organize many children, which is a bit like herding cats at times. These coaches are expected to understand children, many without the benefit of formal training in child psychology. On top all of this, these coaches must contend with the parents of the players; quite a daunting task. I am sure that your husband is a great coach like so many of the great coaches that my daughters have had.
However, the parents in the bleachers love our children too. We want what is best for our kids. We have entrusted the coach with our children and hope that he will guide and teach them well. We tell our children that if they work hard they will be rewarded; in Daddy Ball this does not happen. Children have a very strong sense of justice. When they see an injustice, (e.g. the coach’s kid is named to the All Star Team when at least three players had better seasons statistically) children will do what they can to right the wrong. If justice is not seen to prevail within a season or two, children will find a sport or hobby that they perceive as “fair” where their efforts matter.
Each parent sees the countless hours that their child practices in the backyard and batting cage, honing her skills. Sometimes, we are in the backyard with them. We leave work early to bring them to practice. We dry their tears after a loss. We also get to explain that the world is not always fair; yes, the coach’s daughter probably was named an All Star because her father is the coach; yes, we know your stats were better for the season. Suck it up…get over it….that which does not kill you makes you stronger.
Still, at the basest level, when someone hurts your child, it makes you angry. All the hours that the coach has volunteered cannot make up for the fact that he made your kid cry so that his would be happy.