Like it or not, some children will be left out come tournament time

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 7, 2002

Sports Editor

Tournament teams will be named in the coming weeks, which means for a select few children, baseball and softball season will continue.

But for most boys and girls, the final game is approaching.

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Glancing over recreation recap forms and taking a look at the scorebooks, it’s easy to see which players will have their seasons extended. There are those batters who consistently get hits and pitchers who pitch one, two and three hitters. Strike outs are in the double digits as are RBIs.

For the players who don’t make a tournament team, all I can say is…I’m sorry.

It would be nice if everyone could get a chance to play in the postseason. Travel with the team. Test your skills against players from other cities. Represent Troy and be proud of your accomplishments. Years from now, you could probably wander into the Troy Parks and Recreation’s main office and catch a glimpse of yourself in a picture on the wall, all smiles, lined up straight with your buddies, coaches on either end. Sub-district champions, district champions or even state champs. You could tell your son or daughter, "look, there I am when I was little. Look what we won."

Yeah. That would be nice.

But the world is not a nice place. Earthquakes, floods, famine. Terrorists blowing up innocent people just because they think it’s going to earn them a quick trip to paradise.

Sometimes, it’s the kids who could care less. A lot of times it’s the parents who blow the whole thing out of proportion. A bitter rivalry between two coaches during the regular season can carry over into everyday life. Words are said. In some cases, fights break out.

"My son’s better then yours, there!"



And while even I get somewhat of a sick enjoyment in seeing a Major League ball player storm the mound, or an NBA center deck it out with a power forward, or a professional hockey player throw a right cross and send a little blood bouncing across the ice (yes, blood does bounce on ice), the same thing happening in recreation, high school, or even collegiate sports, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

There’s no place for it.

A father or mother’s idiot reaction may turn a child away from the game forever.

"Come on, let’s go register for baseball," says the parent.

"I don’t want to play," says the boy.

"You’re playing and that’s it." The father drags his son off, signs all of the appropriate documentation and tosses his son onto the diamond like a rag doll dressed in a baseball uniform. Because of his father’s pressure, the son gets no enjoyment from the game. No enjoyment, no will to succeed. A rift grows between father and son which may not be healed until one is on his deathbed. Just imagine all those lost years.

Don’t get the idea that I’m down on tournament teams. Or down on recreation league coaches. Or down on anything competitive when it comes to youth sports. It’s a child’s nature to want to "one-up" his or her peers. Plus, playing baseball is really, really fun.

Coaches are there to instruct.

A majority of them do a great job.

Last weekend, I was particularly impressed with the way Mark Motes handled his Dixie Youth Braves team. He was all over the place, patting his boys on the back and offering words of encouragement.

"Get happy," he told one of his players. "You’re 11-years-old and about to play a baseball game. I know I’d be happy."

Watching Motes at work, you’d think his team was on top of the league standings. Yet, the Braves are in seventh place with a 5-9-1 record.

But Motes knows that one day those same little boys he coaches will look back and see this time as the best days of their lives.

It’s all about how you look at things.