A couple of week's ago, my eight year-old son struck out to end the game for his baseball team. Another mom turned to me and said, "I am sorry. It is so devastating when that happens."
But to be honest, I wasn't devastated at all. And while my son was certainly disappointed, he wasn't devastated either. This comment has stayed with me because I think it is indicative of how parents are approaching kids' sports all wrong.
To me, part of the value of organized sports IS striking out to end the game. This is part of life. You win some. You lose some. Sometimes you hit it out of the park. Other times, you go down swinging. I still find myself striking out all of the time.
I frankly don't get the mentality of "sports parents" who put the focus on undefeated seasons, shut outs and crushing other teams. I understand that winning and success are obviously key parts of any sport. But I think that there is much more that kids can learn from sports -- like being a good loser, showing compassion to a teammate when he or has a tough moment and understanding that there will be another at bat when you will have the chance to get on base.
Like any other sport, baseball is an opportunity for kids to practice life skills that they will need as adults. Parents desperately want to see their children be happy and successful (me included). But we are making a real mistake when we send our kids the message that failure is something to be "devastated" about. They will live to bat again (and hopefully get on base next time). And mom and dad will live too.
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