We did two years of soccer and this year I actually remembered in time to sign up the boys for baseball. (Sidebar – why is baseball sign up in February?!) I thought baseball/t-ball would be a better fit for our kiddos and it is. Baseball is a much better sport for our boys, but unfortunately it still isn’t a great fit.
I don’t know why parents gets so competitive with their kids at such a young age, but the amount of stress that is placed upon these first grade going into second graders is insane. Baseball should be fun at this age and shouldn’t leave the kids overwhelmed and anxious.
That is what baseball is for us this summer. It is struggle between how much fun the game can be and how great the kids are with the conflicting anxiety and stress that is being put on the kids by the parents and coaches. More than once I have wanted to grab Michael and his gear and storm off but I didn’t. Reflecting back on those moments, maybe I should have.
This is a recreational league of 7 and 8 year baseball. It should be all about learning skills, learning the rules of baseball, getting a jersey, hanging out with friends and indulging in whatever treat the treat-parent brought. It shouldn’t be about regret and embarrassment for overthrowing the ball to first base or forgetting to tag the runner when it isn’t a force out.
In stark contrast to baseball is Patrick’s absolutely perfect t-ball league. The kids are having a blast, learning skills and are having fun just being outside with a group of kids their age.
I understand that every year the kids get more competitive. I believe the game wouldn’t be fun if the kids didn’t progressively become more competitive every year, but the boys’ team leagues are only one year apart. The giant leap between pitchball and t-ball should not be so giant. Just because the tee is gone doesn’t mean their skill levels have magically grown to pro levels. Next year Patrick’s team will be playing at Michael’s level and I can’t help but be sad for them. All the fun is being stripped from the game because it will all the sudden become about winning instead of fun and learning.
The parents at the t-ball game watch in amusement and cheer with encouragement. The parents at the baseball games shout at the boys to keep their elbow up and scream corrections when I play was incorrect.
I have been reassured by other parents who have older kids that the rec leagues become fun again when the more competitive
parents kids break off and start competing on travelling teams. The thing is, that break doesn’t happen for another 2 years. Our neighbors who have super competitive and talented kids warn me against “burning out” our kids too young on sports because their eldest daughter “peaked” in jr high and now has a high schooler has begun to lose the love of her sport. It all just makes me so sad.
We have two more nights of baseball/t-ball left for this season. Tim and I will have to think long and hard before we sign up the boys for next year and that bums me out big time. I have such fond memories of playing softball all summer long. I wanted that for my kids.
This is what baseball should be about.
Unfortunately these photos don’t reflect Michael’s experience of playing baseball this summer.