Watered Down Fastpitch

There’s no doubt that all of the rule changes in college and professional sports have definitely watered down the game.

And as fastpitch softball becomes more prevalent and popular, slowly but surely making its way eastward from the West Coast, the rules and regulations are certain to be next up for scrutiny. (In many places, they already are!)

The reality is that fastpitch softball is not a soft game. At all.

It involves a lot of contact, and girls – who for eons have been thought to be less aggressive and passive, are finally (thank goodness) allowed to show their passion in physically demanding and tough ways. Some folks are still surprised at just how much aggression the game is played with, at just how tough these female athletes are, and at how cut throat softball has become. As the old adages of femininity die, our girls have been released and unleashed to PLAY LIKE GIRLS!  And this is a good thing, for many reasons.

The problem is that there are still so many parents in competitive venues of fastpitch who are waving the “Not fair” flag.

Parents that STILL desire participation awards, and playing time for their children just for showing up. Parents and children that expect something FOR their kids, by giving nothing back. Parents that don’t want their daughter truly ‘coached’ if it involves any sort of discipline or expectation of excellence. This doesn’t suggest that coaches should have ‘carte blanc’ to talk down to players, or to humiliate or damage a players self esteem. But nowadays, even the most encouraging coaches are getting blamed for breaking a child’s spirit simply because another player on the team happens to be better. If a coach expects too much, they are accused of being a jerk. If a coach benches a player, even if the reality is it because of player performance – parents fail to see it. In the long run, these excuses and coddling ways only end up hurting the player and  stymie their potential.

Let us be frank! We believe that the sooner girls (and parents) who are truly competitive and passionate about softball, realize that there is ALWAYS someone out here who is better or who is willing to work harder, they will take less for granted and up their game.

And as a parent of 4 softball players myself, I will be the FIRST to tell you this. I expect my girls to do their part if I am going to do mine. The day THEY start making excuses and taking things for granted is the day WE will stop encouraging and paying for them to play.

Listen, girls that play travel softball are a dime a dozen these days and with so many playing – the game too will eventually be watered down.

While we believe that facemasks are a good thing and have their uses, and offer protection – there are already numerous pushes for facemasks to be mandatory in every position on the field. There are complaints and commissions to change rules such as the infield fly, or the dropped third strike – in order to make the game ‘easier.’ People have mentioned the ‘unfairness’ and danger involved when girls who are skilled at the art of showing bunt then hitting away do exactly that at the plate. There have been complaints that have pushed some REC leagues to ban  WHITE pants of all things, because a parent said they are inappropriate on the field because you ‘might’ be able to see a girls underwear!?! (Couldn’t they just wear sliders or put the cheetah underwear on another day, and isn’t this a parent thing?)

And, on any given Saturday, there is some argument or issue with perceived unnecessary contact between players as they collide on the field.  There are tons of people complaining about composite bats and metal cleats and the dangers that they can inflict on a player. You name it, and someone out there in this world is complaining and trying to make the softball world conform to watered down standards.

How about this?

“Let’s keep it sooooo fun, and soooo fair, and sooooo easy that any girl who just wants to pick up a ball can have a chance out there and not be pushed and shoved and outshined by high levels of talent. Let’s punish a really good pitcher by stopping a game to check her birth certificate and trying to get her removed from the field under the assumption that she is ‘playing down’ in order to trophy hunt – instead of admiring her talent. Let’s accuse the girls who hit the ball over the fence of using shaved or illegally altered bats instead of thinking ‘hey, that girl must spend a lot of time in the batting cages.'”

Is. That. What. We. Really. Want!

It’s true no one wants to see a child hurt on the field. But just like in any sport, things are going to happen. And in the moment of making plays, most of the injuries that occur are accidental.  Most pitchers don’t plunk batters on purpose. Most catchers don’t take out a girl stealing home on purpose. They are just doing their thing on the field. No batter hits an infielder on purpose.  And MOST coaches in this world truly want to develop talent and empower the girls that they coach. But if a player (or a parent) is expecting a metaphorical ‘participation’ award when money, and tournament championships and berths are on the line – they are in the wrong sport.

Will fast pitch softball be the next sport to be watered down? The more people that play, the more complaints and rule changes and demands to amend regulations will be heard.

Can we not just let the girls PLAY BALL? Can we redistribute accountability back to the GIRLS on the field – and stop making excuses for everything?

What do you think. Will fastpitch soon be the next watered down sport?

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