The Land of Oz: You're Probably Taking Your Kids' Sport Too Seriously

24 May 2018 Derek Osborn

I sometimes wonder if my column comes across as a “know-it-all parent who is just trying to make everybody else look bad.” If it ever has, please accept my apology. Believe me… that is not the intent. Even though I cover a diversified assortment of local and national topics, it is my parenting submissions that I probably question the most. 

The reason is quite simple: I am not a perfect parent. And to be frank, I do not believe in their existence.

Newborn babies don't come in a factory-sealed package, complete with a user guide and an owner’s manual, that explains how to raise them right. Every toddler is different. Every teen is different. And every environment in which they develop, and learn, and grow is different. 

Given the amount of societal issues and distractions and technological advances, I think most of us just try to do the best we can in giving our kids a shot at succeeding in the 21st century. Sometimes, this includes competing in sports. 

A family member recently sent my wife a meme depicting a couple of cute kid baseball players laughing that said, “Look at my dad. He’s throwing a tantrum cuz I missed the ball!” While I found this amusing, I also recognized a hard truth… I’m guilty. 

It is a completely natural response to want your kid(s) to be the best that they can be and to compete at a high level. For parents who took part in competitive sports in their youth, it’s probably worse. At times, it can be a reminder of things we did/didn’t do that we probably could have/should have taken more seriously during our playing days. But here is the deal… kids don't understand this anymore than we did when we were playing little league. 

And here’s some numbers for you too (because data is cool): Out of roughly 489,000 high school baseball players in the U.S., only about 7 percent will go on to play college ball. And of that, only about 2 percent will play Division 1. That number gets worse when you get to women’s softball, which sits at about 5 percent (with 1.6 percent playing Div. 1). And I don't have room to bore you with the fraction of the percentages when it comes to the odds of turning pro.

The point is, we probably should be concentrating more on helping kids enjoy the sport while helping them steadily improve, instead of screaming at them when a grounder goes between their legs. But the most important lesson should be centered on teamwork and sportsmanship, especially considering how self-absorbed we are as a society. Your kid might miss the pop-up, but the team that works together wins the game. 

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34. 

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.   

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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