Parental Frustration in Youth Sports (Part 2)

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 2nd Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3i5unr0x/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

Being a parent is hard enough. I dislike unorganized coaches and sports organizations that add to the difficulty and frustration. The following piece is my second article on this topic.

Don't Get Me Wrong

It's no secret that my idea of baseball is a pick up game with agreed upon bases played in nice weather. Beyond that, I don't really understand America's National Pastime. Oh, I could get into listening to the National Anthem while holding a mustard-covered hot dog in one hand and a cold soft drink (you know which one) in the other.

I also love watching kids play sports -- the ones who are afraid of the ball are especially entertaining. Great joy can be had from watching the players who are genuinely surprised that their bats connect to the pitches -- even if it's just a foul tip. Learning to play a sport is about fun and making mistakes. I understand and encourage that. I don't mind watching the progress. It's part of being a parent and having kids.

Reiterating Previous Frustrations

What I don't understand, however, is how a league can be so unorganized. In my earlier article on the topic, I was frustrated because my son was placed on a team with no rhyme or reason behind the choice. We were not allowed, specifically, for my son to be on the same team as his friends or to choose the nights of practice. My son has made some friends of his teammates, but it isn't the same as knowing anyone from anything else. We don't see them outside of practice, and after baseball, there is small likelihood we will see any of them again.

As a parent, I am very frustrated by this. Not knowing anyone on the team means little chance of establishing a carpool, having someone to talk to during the 90 minute practices (without it being "weird"), and knowing what is going on if a practice must be missed (without bothering the coach). The only way I even know any of the other player's names is by listening to see if the coaches call a player by a name or asking other parents who are watching who their kids are and what their names are. I have not managed either without feeling quite stalker-ish, despite my noble intentions, and the answers from the other parents do not relieve this feeling of anxiety. They don't know me. I am asking questions about them and about their child. Why shouldn't they be concerned? How well can you get to know a person sharing a bleacher for 90 minutes twice a week?

Frustrations with "Coaching Staff"

OK, so I'm a parent on the sidelines. I'm not a fan of sports in general, and I'm feeling rather stalker-ish. The team has been meeting twice a week for 90 minute practice sessions, contingent upon cooperative weather, for three weeks now (this is technically week four, but the first practice was on a Thursday). My son missed one practice for his computer class, and one practice was canceled due to rain. A third practice was held in an indoor batting cage. So in other words, there have been six scheduled practices and my son has attended four, only three on the ball field.

There have been three male adults on the field and at the batting cage. I've only been introduced to two of them, and I don't like it when the third shouts at my kid -- no matter how good his intentions. I don't know if he's a trained coach, a caring parent, or a rabid child molester. I don't see a kid running to him, so I'm ruling out "parent of a team member". He hasn't been at every practice. Multiple warning bells sound off in my head. My son doesn't like him (but then, my son also doesn't like re-direction, and this man gives him the most criticism. The other coaches may not ignore my son, but it's clear he isn't the star player in their eyes.). He may be a great coach. But is it terrible for me to be concerned about who he is and what he's doing?

There are also men on the sidelines (women may do this with other teams, but this is my experience with this team) who shout random baseball-sounding things at any player they think can hear them. I'm sure the kids who know baseball find this very helpful. However, this makes it difficult for my son to hear the coach(es). And he doesn't understand what the parents are yelling. I want to tell the parents to either join the field and coach the players, or sit down and shut up, but I don't feel either would actually change the behavior of the other parents. So I sit and stew.

My husband joins me halfway through practice, when he gets off of work and can join us on the field. Among other complaints, practice starts at 5PM, so it is understandable that many parents can not bring their children to practice because they are still at work. This is a reason carpooling might have come in handy -- if both parents work a 9-5, how will the child get to practice? My husband is not into baseball any more than I am, but we sit on the bleachers encouraging our child -- "run / pay attention / good job!" -- and spend the rest of our time quietly heckling the rest of the process. It's how we stay sane.

Games Schedule

My son's grandmother, my mother, asked me to tell her when the games are so that she could try to attend some of her grandson's, my son's, games. We were told that the games might be on Mondays, Thursdays, or Saturdays, starting some time in April. At the first practice, the coach could not tell us when the first game would be. Today, nearly a month later, the assistant coach told us we might start the season two weeks from today. Today is Tuesday. If games are Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, then why would the first game be on a Tuesday? Is this some kind of April Fool's joke? Should I tell my mother to just keep every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from now until the end of June open in case my son has a game? Is this a realistic expectation for working parents? For anyone?

Failing to Bring It Home

My son is making friends and getting some exercise. If he stops enjoying this experience, I am quite prepared to tell the league that they've had their three strikes. I'm not asking them to predict the weather. I'm asking for a schedule and a few make-up days in case of rain. Why is it so hard for these ball players to commit, and why is no one making a bigger fuss? When they make their own rules and there's no one higher up the chain to complain to, how does anything change for the better? And if I tilt at this particular windmill, will my son ever be allowed to play baseball in this town again?


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Fine print:
Images are courtesy of MorgueFile and Bing Search. The Arden League Schedule is courtesy of http://www.ardenlittleleague.com. I may have cropped, edited, or captioned photos to better illustrate my points and make the images more my own. The YouTube video of Meatloaf singing the Star Spangled Banner at the ball game is not owned or created by me, and including it here in this article does not make me the owner or give me any special rights to the video, lest any be thought or deemed implied.

Tags

Ball, Baseball, Coaches, Frustration, Schedules, Team Sports, Youth Sports

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Carol
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

Very interesting Phyl. The good thing about writing is we can vent our frustration and disappointment through our work in a positive way.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks for hearing my "vent." I do appreciate all the support I get here!!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

I agree with Carol. At least you can get your frustrations out of your system.
It does seem odd, though. You would think there would be better planning and organization but apparently not. I can't blame you for being frustrated. Who wouldn't be?

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks, Connie!

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author avatar vellur
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

Parenting can be hard and there are so many things that work against us.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

So true, vellur!

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author avatar Sarah W
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

For the record... it's the same in Florida (both the disorganization and the lack of ability to request teams / teammates). Some leagues and coaches are better than others, but the disorganization is still there. Softball is world's worse than baseball, because more dad's seem to want to coach baseball. To ease your mind on the coaches though, it's very likely that they had to submit background check information. Our league doesn't allow coaches on the field without one. Not during games anyway. And we also have 5pm practices. What's worse is 5pm games -- that you have to show up for at 4:15.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks for weighing in Sarah. While misery certainly loves company, I hate the helpless feeling. Seriously wondering how much insurance I'd need to start my own league!! Got to, got to, got to be a better way!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Phyl, the trials and tribulations of parents. As a grandparent of four playing many types of sports, I can start those awkward conversations with parents easier than my daughters can. Is it my friendly outgoing nature, my safe appearance, or the eccentric quality I bring to the conversation? Who knows, my daughters would like to know the secret, also. I am now required to "make friends" with at least 1/2 of the team parents so my daughters can safely enter the conversations... who knows. However, our schedules do seem better than what you described. Although all of this does give you interesting material for your articles and a place to vent –relief and validation are what we get sometimes. Good job. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

True enough, and I will take the ability to vent and share. I do wonder if grandparents appear less threatening!! Because I seriously don't meet strangers that often, but trying to converse meaningfully on the bleachers is not getting me very far. Maybe I should bring my mother!! ;)

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
2nd Apr 2014 (#)

I love the way you let it all hang out dear Phyl...marvellous you are....

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Oh, thank you, dear! I'm a true Sag -- no reason to hide how I feel or present the facts any differently than I see them. If I could understand WHY, many of my nerves would settle. But the WHY is as forthcoming as the schedule!!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

I do hope this post catches the eye of one of the coaches and, hey presto, they get the message, Phyl ! On a more serious note, I have met such situations of - take it or leave it. Maybe, things would become better over time and I would urge you to keep cool for your son's sake, as long as he enjoys overall - siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks, Siva. That's partly why I write here -- to vent, to share, to present the idea of change. Complacency has never been a strong suit of mine, though being a mother has forced a wide array of situations where I've bitten my poor tongue bloody. And I will continue to do so in the heat of the moment and situation, never fear.
At the same time, however, do these coaches know HOW to read? I say that in jest, but with genuine concern. Is it a case of deliberate problem-causing, or do they just not see the world outside their ball-field? And am I part of the problem because I do not fight the system -- especially if I am not fighting the system out of fear that people will retaliate against my son? For someone who is supposed to live in the democratic land of the free, I find myself asking this question overmuch. I certainly don't want to be someone that does nothing and says nothing, but nor do I want to make a mountain from every molehill, and I still don't know where to draw the line in the sand.
This just seems like it should be one of those easy fixes.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Great share..

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you, MD Rezaul Karim.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Apr 2014 (#)

Child sports are getting out of hand everyday!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
10th Apr 2014 (#)

I think so! And it's too bad that parents can't rationally work things out with the organizers without fear of retaliation against the youth ball players. Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Kingwell
9th Apr 2014 (#)

I agree, kids sports need to be much better organized and kids must be allowed to have 'fun'.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
10th Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks, Kingwell!

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author avatar Jessica
18th May 2014 (#)

I have had it with youth sports!!! My 10 year old has played Travel Baseball, Lacrosse and High Level Hockey. Youth Sports are out of hand on so many levels. From the cost to the politics to the parents and then add the kid's and their emotions...both good and bad. I was thinking about starting a blog myself about my experiences because it has been that eventful and perplexing.

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