Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Save the REAL Men

I try to find the positive and humor in everything. Really – life is too short to be cranky and negative even if it is totally justified and feels perversely good at the time. I have been trying to find the right way to word what is on my mind for this post because I do not want to focus on the negative and I think people don’t really want to hear it either.

Last night was my son’s last baseball game for this season. We have had such a great and fun year and were really psyched to end the year with a fun game under the lights. Sadly the other team was headed by two coaches who were so focused on winning they encouraged their boys to manipulate the rules, try to sneak playing with a weighted bat, walked our best hitter when they were already up by 5 runs, benched a boy who was not as athletic as the others, who coached a player to mow down our catcher and injured him for no reason (ball was in the outfield and they were up by 9 runs with 5 minutes left in the game), who laughed about him being injured and continued to run the bases as he rolled on the ground in pain, and then chanted “We’re #1” and sang “We are the Champions” when our coaches decided we were not going to continue to play.

As a former athlete, a mom, and just a caring human being the entire evening was so wrong on so many levels that I am still sick to my stomach. I ache for the boys on that team who think that is what baseball is all about. My heart breaks for the boy who was not encouraged to do his best and to try to improve, but rather that the only thing he could offer his teammates was to do the least damage possible. I am baffled by the parents of that team who allowed their sons to be on a team like that. I am worried about what those men must be like at home and the kind of men they are raising their sons to be. I am worried about the boy who was hurt. I am sad for our team who had to end the year with such a scary experience. I am angry that my son had to be exposed to such ugliness at such a young age and in an environment that is supposed to be a happy and safe place for him. I am still in shock and horror of the viciousness of the hit and seeing that child rolling in pain as his father (one of the assistant coaches) sat at his side trying to figure out how badly he was hurt with a full range of emotions etched on his face.

It is hard to let all of this go but I have to. I choose to. I want to focus on all the great things I saw last night in the midst of such disgusting behavior. First of all we have the best. coaches. EVER! Our coaches and boys handled themselves impeccably throughout the game and afterwards. The boys did their best to stay focused and not let the ickiness affect them. When their teammate was injured they all ran towards home plate to see if he was ok. One boy called for them to take a knee and they all did. During the game several of our boys were seen talking and being friendly with the boys on the other team. While the other team taunted our team, they ignored it. While the parents cried out our complaints, our coaches had the presence of mind to keep the boys focused on the game. While the other team pulled out all the stops, including cheating to try to win, our coaches focused on playing fair and having fun. We could have stacked the line-up, had our best pitchers on the mound and benched a couple players in an effort to score more points. We didn’t though and for that I am so thankful. When our player was injured our coaches could have yelled and swore and placed blame, but none of that would have spoken as loudly as the statement “We’re done,” did was they gathered their players to leave the field. Our boys learned a great lesson in character and regardless of the score I feel we won. I pray our coaches return next year because I want my son to have as much access to great men like these as possible. And sadly I fear they are a dying breed.