But, I would not have won my share if I didn't take it seriously, because, as we all know, the other guy is almost always - with maximum gravitas - trying to send us home as losers. And since winning is more fun than losing and it's supposed to be about the kids having fun, coming out on top is a reasonable objective.
It is when winning takes precedence over fairness, equal opportunity, sportsmanship and logic that youth sports becomes warped.
I get -- and respect -- the youth sports culture of working to be successful with wins as the primary barometer of such success. And this is not about travel teams and top-tier select squads whose members (and their parents) are well aware of the pre-ordained, win-first culture.
This is for all those other coaches whose teams are populated by kids who just want to learn the sport, interact with friends, get exercise, please their parents, experience competition and practice sportsmanship.
So, I've got a couple of pet peeves (with solutions), though I know only too well that I'm dreaming. Unfortunately, human nature does not allow for such logic to prevail. Most coaches will do whatever they think they can get away with to influence the outcome of the game.
But, if I were King of the World:
1. The "meaningful experience" promise that coaches make to the parents of less talented kids would be replaced by the coach's commitment to absolute equal playing time.
- The"meaningful experience" line from the coach is code for the the following: The less talented kids are not going to play as much as the stars and never at the end of a close game because we want to win, baby.
- Let's see. Everyone pays the same registration fee. Why, exactly, should some kids play less than others? No one's ever explained that to me.
- It's just not that difficult to manage substitutions in a way that gets everyone an equal or near-equal number of minutes, snaps, innings, quarters, shifts, at bats or whatever. It can be done. We've all seen and (hopefully) admired those who do it. Many find a way to do it and still get plenty of Ws.
2. The conservative philosophy of encouraging baseball and softball players to take a strike and wait out a pitcher in hopes of a walk would be replaced by an aggressive, free-swinging coach-approach that encourages batters to confidently take their cuts.
- Some coaches order players to take a strike before swinging at a pitch. Others teach that a walk is the easiest way to get on base and encourage NOT swinging the bat. In this way, they seek an advantage through the potential failings of young, vulnerable pitchers who must avoid putting runners on base via walks.
- There is almost nothing positive that can result from this approach. The batter is tentative and the opposing pitcher is subject to embarrassment, if he cannot find the plate.
- Alternatively, if the batters are free-swinging and aggressive, they will be less nervous and more confident. Most importantly, they will also eventually become better hitters, instead of carrying a tentative mindset to the next level of competition.
- The most embarrassing thing that can happen to a batter is a called third strike. Such occurrences would decrease dramatically if coaches would let the kids be hitters, rather than hostages to a hoped-for base on balls.
- If a kid swings the bat, he or she has to take responsibility for the result. If he or she gets called out on strikes, he or she can blame the ump. Not a good thing.
Please let me know.