Son’s exclusion from tourney team upsets parent

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 10, 2001

Sports Editor

I received an e-mail from someone the other day concerning the selection process of this year’s Troy Parks and Recreation baseball and softball tournament teams.

The letter was from a mother whose son competed in recreation baseball this year, but was not included on the tournament team.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

She states that her son is a talented baseball player who has a good attitude and had one of the highest batting averages in the league this season. She also states that he can "play any position on the field, except catcher", but was left off of the tournament team because he was "not a coach’s son" and penalized because his family doesn’t "live in a certain neighborhood."

She said the tournament team selection was based on bias and favoritism and, according to the letter, the tournament players were determined by "who’s the coaches son and who’s father is the coaches buddy" process of elimination.

The correspondent also stated that she did not fault Dan Smith, or the TPRD, for her son being left out, but faulted the coaches, the ones "who get together and say if you vote for my player, I’ll vote for yours."

This is exactly why the end of the recreation league regular season is such a difficult thing for most parents and children; not everyone is allowed to go on. Some of the kids that competed during the season must watch their peers move on to compete against other kids from other cities. The ones that didn’t make it are moved over to the sidelines and they must then observe the ones that did.

What’s hard for a child who did not make it is not just being allowed to play baseball anymore, but missing out on the fellowship, the road trips, the stops at Dairy Queen or McDonalds for the team meal. They miss the pats on the backs and the rubs on the head from the coaches, the "Good jobs!", the "Way to go’s!" and the celebration of a big victory.

Not being selected for a tournament team is, for them, the equivalent of being told "we don’t want you anymore." And for these kids who are left behind, watching their buddies go on to better things can tear them up inside.

Baseball is a good thing. Baseball is a wonderful thing, fun and enjoyable. The Recreation Department’s tournament teams are a great thing also, but the selection process for these teams is kind of like popping a finger back into place. You’ve got to do it, but you know it’s going to hurt like hell.

I’m sure most of the coaches in Troy would have included every league player available on the tournament team if they could have. The bitter reality is that there’s only a limited amount of space on a tournament team’s roster.

Coaches do, however, need to take the time to consider all the players, not just the ones who have stood out on the field, but those who have given 110 percent of themselves for the team. Sadly, we live in a culture that likes to win. Unfortunately, talent sometimes outweighs the word "team." If coaches base their selections on "who’s the best" then a lot of times all you will have is a group of individuals, playing independently, and not for the good of the whole.

As for favoritism, I agree, it does exists. To say it doesn’t is like saying racism is a thing of the past. But like racism, it is something that needs to be stamped out and removed from today’s society. Racism belongs in the past and the history books. Not in the world we now live in. And favoritism does not belong on a little league ball field.

The e-mail concluded by saying "it is very hard to sit down and tell your 10-year old that he deserved to make the team but he didn’t."

It is hard. But all of the hits and misses are what molds us into what we later become in life. Disappointment now may mean harder work and success in the future.

Like Burt Reynolds said, "It’s not the knockdowns that hurt you. It’s not getting back up to fight again."