When the BEST, Isn’t? | fastpitch softball

Youth sports is a hodge-podge of things all wrapped into one. When you have so many adults with tightly held vested interests and a bunch of kids in a competitive venue, and all sorts of different ideals on everything from participation awards, to work ethic…there’s no chance that you will escape without grievances. So it is. The veil of unicorns and happy trolls has now been lifted. Let’s move on, shall we?

One of the most prominent grievances in youth sports, starts with things like All Stars, way down in the goofy trenches of 6U wee ball.

You know how it goes down.

Parent/volunteer coaches meet and are supposed to choose kids based on talent and ability to combine for an all-star team. Weeding down 35 players to 10 or 11, of the ‘best.’ The end result is ALWAYS the same. Folks feeling miffed or stiffed, grumbling and groaning, and plenty of complaints about who was picked, along with insinuations about WHY certain kids were picked based on politics. Etc. It can get really ugly.

As your kids get older, the same old issue resurfaces. Why was kid 1 turned down for a travel team over kid 2, when kid 1 is obviously better. Fast forward to school sports, and there is always the same question. Susie is playing short when Lilly is better. Stella has been benched for the season, even though she is a better pitcher than June. Marge made the team and Ella didn’t, because Marge’s mom is friends with the coach.

The definition of WHO is better, and who is the BEST, and who is deserving, and who is a better player, is ALWAYS based on an opinion.

Allow us to be the first to inform you, no one in this world is able to be completely unbias. Doesn’t make them or us – right, it just is what it is.

And since we all have differing opinions of everything, and often biased opinions of our own about kids ability and talent (our kids and other kids) – it only stands to reason that we aren’t going to always agree.

Furthermore, regardless of whether its right or wrong, politics ARE involved. Get over it, get passed it. Move beyond it. Don’t make it a CRUTCH unless you want to cripple your own kiddo. 

The most important thing to understand is that your kids probably already know who the best players are. They know who is deserving and who is just getting by because someone likes them. They go to practice and tryouts and grow up alongside these kids, and THEY know the girls they play with better than any adult on the sideline does. And hey, they also KNOW who is better than they are. They know Jan is better than they are, and they are usually okay with that, and use it as a way to learn from Jan.

And once they hit a certain age, they are VERY aware, of who is deserving and who isn’t. Trust us, they KNOW when someone who is being heralded as the BEST, really is not the BEST. 

When they see a girl start at third, who hasn’t been able to make a play all year, who sits out most practices because she’s ‘injured’ – they know. When they hear of friends playing on SELECT A BALL TEAM Fancy, and their dad happens to be the coach or know the coach, they KNOW what happened. When they see Abby’s dad schmoozing with the coach, they aren’t surprised that Abby got a starting spot. When Jenny is sitting out because Jenny’s dad and the coach aren’t less than friends, they know it’s not because Jenny, a star athlete, suddenly stinks.  (Jenny knows that too) Fair? Nope. Life? Yep.

Bottom line, is our kids know when a coach or person in authority doesn’t really LIKE them, and they SEE firsthand (without parents telling them) why things are the way they are sometimes.

But what are you going to do? Let them get mad and pout and scream “This is NOT fair” and quit? Do we teach them to take the problem to Facebook, or to the higher-ups? Do we teach the kids to whine and complain to get their way? To throw a fit? To quit teams and make accusations, and feel defeated and victimized all the time

Or do we teach them to carry on like warriors, and do their ‘thang’ anyway? 

Heck, people not liking us is part of life. Things not being fair, is a part of life that is not going out of fashion anytime soon. Getting opportunities based on who you know, IS part of life. Fakeness and butt-kissing to impress someone else…part of life. Some folks are better at it than others. Some people in authority are more impressed by it than others are.

Moving up a perceived ladder, regardless of HOW you move up, is still moving up. That’s a painful realization, because we soooo want everything to be fair and good and serentiyjust. But life doesn’t always work that way. Instead of being mad, say “Good for them” to those who have found a way to push their kids up and onward. Maybe, there is something to learn from their tactics. Maybe not. 

Seems futile to encourage our children to waste their time and energy worrying about it and debating about it.

And worse yet, standing on the highest mountain, pointing out the fact that Jillian is NOT the best, sort of just makes you look like a jealous jerk. It certainly doesn’t make Jillian, just a kid, look bad. 

It’s also time to stop trying to fit our square peg daughters into round holes, where they do not fit (or where maybe they do fit, but aren’t allowed to fit because of politics), just to make a statement. Move on already. You are not a tree. You can move. Just do it with integrity. Do it FOR YOU, not in spite of someone else. (This DOES NOT mean quitting every time something doesn’t go your way)

But be prepared, and prepare your children, that they are going to find the same inequities in ALL areas of their life as they grow up…. 

Sometimes, the BEST, really isn’t. That’s just how it is in youth sports. 

And, sometimes it’s actually very sad because there are kids in this world who could probably REALLY BE THE BEST, who would push themselves, and try harder and get better – if the people around them (parents, coaches etc) were being honest with them.

One day, those kids will wake up in a world where no one knows who they are, where daddy is not coaching, where Aunt where they will be expected to be more, show more and live up to their BEST reputation. And they won’t have any training to do so. They won’t have the experience. So maybe they just need our prayers.

Or, maybe they really ARE the best, but it is us, who just fail to see it….

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