Do you remember the “good old days”? You know, those days when we could run around the neighborhood unafraid of those we would meet. Those days when it was hot outside and it was still okay to drink from the water hose? Those days when you worked for everything you got and nothing was just handed to you?
Those good old days are gone. I am concerned for our younger generation. It’s taken the sport of softball and baseball to bring this concern to light for me.
Back when I was a kid (now I’m sounding like my mother or worse yet, my grandparents!) when we played organized sports it was vastly different than playing sports today. We kept score. We won or we lost. We got awards if we EARNED them. (I could go on and on here.)
Now that my daughter plays softball, I find it absolutely appalling the way this sport is handled at this age level. At certain levels of the sport, they don’t even keep score at the games. When I asked about this, I was told, “It doesn’t matter who wins (okay, I’ll agree with that) so we just let everyone play (again, I’ll agree) and just have fun.”
Okay, fine. This is “do-able.” So then I ask, “When we get to the play offs, how do you determine who wins the championship if you’re not keeping score?”
“Oh, we’ll keep score then to determine how they finish.”
Ah, wait a minute. Back up here. So, you don’t keep score all season long, the girls are clueless as to if they won or lost and then all of a sudden when it’s playoff time scores are important? Don’t you think that’s a little confusing for the kids?
Knowing this ahead of time, parents would sit in the stands with tablets and scrap paper, keeping score themselves just so they could know who won or lost. “Who wins or loses isn’t important,” they say. Really? Tell that to the next 2 candidates for president. I think they would beg to differ that it DOES matter who wins or not.
When playoff time finally came around, Katie’s team lost their first game and were automatically eliminated from the rest of the playoffs. I started to help Katie pack up her gear and we started toward the van. “Wait! Come back! They all need to get their awards.”
Awards? You get an award for losing now? Yup, apparently you do. Each girl on the team was given a trophy. Even Jenny* who only showed up for 3 practices and when up to bat, just kept swinging the bat whether a ball was pitched or not and struck out every last time, got a trophy. Ellen* who spent her time dancing on the field doing pirouttes and ballet moves, never caught a ball, never got anyone out, and when up to bat always injured herself somehow (usually, it was tripping over her own feet, because again, she was trying out a dance move) got a trophy. Abbie* who was always “too tired” to play and begged to be benched as often as possible and who rarely showed up on time and never seemed to have a ride home afterward, and only had one good hit the whole season, who also had a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush got a trophy. (*Names have been changed.)
What did this teach these three girls. It sure didn’t teach them that they have to work hard to earn something. It taught them that they could just goof off and get a trophy just like the other girls on the team who played their hearts out during unscored games. It taught them that they didn’t even have to show up to get the prize in the end.
This is just outrageous! Why can’t we go back to how it was? You know…where you kept score, there were winners and losers. The winners went out for icecream and the losers just went home. The ultimate winners got the big trophy for the team and little individual trophies for each player. The other teams got some sort of ribbon or token for participating, but nothing more. Everyone went home knowing that those who won the championship had worked hard to get there. They didn’t get the award just for showing up.
It disgusts me how we put our children in cocoons and try to protect them from disappointment and failure. No one wants to fail, but sometimes our greatest growth comes through failing.
How I miss the “good old days” when it wasn’t all sunshine and roses….but at least we knew right from wrong and that you don’t get a free ride. So, take me out of the ball game. I don’t want to play this way anymore. I’d love for our children to know what it is truly like to be a child. There are successes and there are failures. That’s life. What our children are living today is just a fairy tale. Hopefully, they’ll all turn out alright despite the sheltered life we force them to live.
I know this isn’t a typical post for me, but just something that I’ve been “stewing” on for a while and just needed to get it off my chest!
Thanks for reading!