I played travel softball growing up and then continued on to play at the Division I level. I owe the sport everything. I found my best friends playing softball and it also allowed me to receive my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree on a scholarship. But, most importantly it has taught me more life lessons than softball lessons.
In college, if you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late. Time management. You have to work with your teammates on a daily basis in order to have team chemistry. Teamwork and communication. You have to work hard when nobody’s watching if you truly want to be good. Self-accountability. You also have to work with coaches and sports officials. Respecting authority.
This last point is something we discussed in the previous blog post. There is an absolute lack of respect towards sports officials across the board in youth sports. 10 year olds are talking back to umpires, while parents of middle schoolers are being thrown out of games. Coaches are being thrown out after chasing umpires and referees down.
It makes a little bit more (barely) sense in the major leagues when coaches and players get so upset on a questionable call. Their jobs and their livelihoods are at stake and a few calls that don’t go there way may put them out of a job. But, at the youth level it is just a GAME. It is supposed to be fun. It is supposed to teach young kids life lessons.
My question is what happens when adults are attacking sports officials at these youth games? The answer is that it teaches kids that it is alright to do so as well. It goes further than that too, because blaming a sports official is the easy way out in a lot of cases. For instance, there’s the baseball pitcher who complains about the umpire’s strike zone instead of practicing harder to hit his spots. Or, the soccer player who blames the referee for the missed offsides call when really they just need work on conditioning more.
At 10 they are arguing with an umpire, at 14 they’re talking back to their teachers, and at 18 their disrespecting a police officer. It is easy to get caught up in the moment, but it is important to constantly remember that these games are teaching kids way more than just sports.