To the editor:
In response to the July 23 letter from Mrs. Day: I totally understand about not letting your child quit and being supportive of your teammates. My son was in Brownwood leagues from T-ball all the way until he was 16. There were many times we left the field in tears because he sat the bench nearly the whole game. I always told him he had to stick it out for the entire season. And by the next year; he was always ready to try again. I understand these coaches volunteer their time and efforts for these young players, and my son had some very good coaches, and he had some that were only concerned about winning, and we were not anywhere close to state competition.
It is a fact of life that some kids are naturally more competitive and have greater skills than others. After the first few games, you can already tell who the leaders of the team will be. I agree that teaching your kids that quitting is OK is not beneficial to them in any way. But it is also not beneficial to them to have their self-esteem knocked down a little more every day by reinforcing their belief that they are not good enough to participate. You should never judge another parent (or grandparent) until you have felt their pain. When your child is always one of the key players it is easy to tell others how they should feel. I never thought my son should be one of the “star players,” but should at least get to break a sweat! When he got older he did get to play more even playing firsst base which he was so proud of. On the last game he would ever get to play as he was 16 he was put in around the fourth or fifth inning, and was cruelly taken out after five minutes, with no explanation as to what he had done, and one of the youngest players put in his place! He sat on the bench for the rest of the game. As a mother, I will tell you that was one of the most painful moments of my life watching my 16-year-old cry and tell me “I guess I just suck mom,” Where is the character building in that? These coaches are teachers and role models for our children and should treat all the players as they would be want their kids to be treated. I certainly mean no disrespect to Mrs. Day or to imply she is not fair, only to tell of my experiences with coaches who were more concerned about winning than the feelings of the kids they were coaching.
So, while I do not condone quitting, do not criticize another parent until you have walked in their shoes. My son was never on a team that went to state, but I don’t think I would have liked to have had all the expenses of traveling to another town, paying for lodging, food and gas, to watch my son sit the bench the entire time. Anyone who says watching their kids play is not their main motivation for attending sports functions is not being truthful, in my opinion. Everyone likes to think their kids are getting to participate, and that they feel part of the team. It is hard not to feel ostracized when game after game you are reminded that you are not quite good enough, no matter how hard you try, when you always show up for every practice (because you will not even get to play the little bit you do if you don’t) and the kids who don’t show up for practice get to play anywise.
As you can tell, this is a sore subject with me. My son is soon to be 21 and has moved on, but the letter from the lady who was upset brought it all back fresh like it was yesterday. We all pay the same dues, all attend practices, all give our time, energy, (and our children!) to these programs. ALL the kids should benefit, not just a few talented ones.