some thoughts on baseball…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

baseball-diamond-mtlMy husband did not grow up playing sports. Not because he didn’t have the talent or desire, but his family did not choose sports as a family activity or value that they wanted to pursue. While I didn’t grow up in a family that focused on sports above all else, all of us had opportunity to play sports as we grew up, so I was definitely focused on our children having that opportunity as well.

We want our children to play sports for a variety of reasons, but I have to be honest, the very last reason on our list is about the actual sport itself. Athletics are great; they teach wonderful life lessons and valuable physical, social, mental, and emotional skills, but very few people truly have the talent and ability and opportunity to make it their professional career. I would love for any of our children to have the talent to get a scholarship for their efforts, but even that distinction belongs to a precious few graduates.

The primary reason we want our children to play sports is for the community aspect of it. They learn teamwork and make new friends, and we, as a family, do the same. One of our main family values is to be out and about in our community, making a difference wherever we can. We've thought long and hard about how much is too much for our family. We don’t want to spend every night away from home because of sporting activities, so we don’t enroll our kids in every single sport. We consider very carefully our family’s commitment, and we take it seriously. For us, athletics are not something that we want our children to do; for us, sports are something we want to do as a family.

So, as we end this baseball season, which was fraught with drama and politics and hateful words and bad behavior from parents, players, and coaches alike, we re-evaluate what we’re doing. We could move to a ‘better’ league. One that is more fair. One that is less political. One where I wouldn’t have to constantly reiterate to my son what appropriate behavior for ADULTS is when it comes to kids’ baseball. But. But. We’re in our neighborhood league. These are our people. If we moved, we’d meet new people, I’m sure. We’d even already know some of them, but they wouldn’t be our neighbors. They wouldn’t be our people.

So as much as I hate some of what’s gone on this year, I am so thankful that we all participated. Notice that I don’t even say that Ben participated – we participated. As a family. We attend every possible game together as a family. We go to practices, we sit with the crowd at the games.

This year…in spite of the drama, Ben had a great coach. One that valued playing the game over winning the game. One that didn’t take it easy on him, yet was never harsh.

This year…we made new friends. We solidified old friendships. Like, for real friends, not just acquaintances. Ones that I can call if I need something. Ones where the promise of continued relationship still lifts my heart.

This year…I hugged hurting kids and encouraging mamas. I was encouraged myself.

This year…I laughed. And laughed and laughed. There are very few things more entertaining than watching children try to play to any kind of sport.

This year…I cried with someone. Literally. (Listen, don’t judge my emotionality at the ballpark – it was a truly intimate, touching, friendship-moment, I promise.)

This year…I watched my own classmate’s children, now my son’s classmates, fail, succeed, and enjoy themselves in every single moment in between.

This year…I talked with others about church. I talked about Jesus. I rose above my personal feelings to discuss those things with an ‘enemy’. (Or at least, someone who I personally dislike and who I feel behaves truly badly for an adult woman. But I digress…)

This year…This is why we do sports. This is why we continue to do sports. If this isn’t something you’ve traditionally valued in your family, I encourage you to reevaluate. For us, the time, the money, the energy is all worth it. Our lives, our family, our children – all are richer today because of the decision we’ve made to do this as a family.

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