As you might know, I have been a strong supporter of youth sports parents, an admittedly strident defender against the facile attacks by people who know the stereotype, not the real people who give so much time and effort and money to the teams and organizations.
But this week a couple of stories came to my attention that involve moms and dads who might really deserve the derision they receive.
In Indiana, a couple is suing Henryville Youth Sports Inc in hopes of denying a Henryville all-star team from playing – because their son was not selected for the roster. Now, I don’t know if the boy deserved inclusion or not, if the coaches picked their own kids and those of their friends, or if the boy really wasn’t as good as the players who made the team. But bringing national attention to the conflict doesn’t seem wise. It perpetuates the Crazy Sports Parent stereotype and, in the end, their son will wish he never tried out for the team.
A mom in New Jersey has filed an even more outlandish suit – against a 13-year-old boy who, a couple of years ago, was warming up a pitcher in a bullpen area during a game. Apparently not possessing an accurate arm, the boy sailed the ball over the pitcher’s head, over a fence and into a nearby picnic area, where the mom’s daughter was sitting. The ball hit the girl in the face, and mom wants $150K in damages.
I hope that boy gets a BIG weekly allowance.
These parents are doing what parents instinctively do: protecting their children. But certain boundaries need to be maintained. Again, in these cases I know only what has been reported in the media. Maybe that New Jersey boy really was trying to hit the girl. Maybe the Indiana boy deserved to be on the team.
But that’s not the point. Parents need to pick their battles more wisely and must summon the strength to let their kids learn the realities of life. Circumstances won’t always be fair to either of the kids involved or to your kids or mine.
Rather than always rushing to their “rescue” with our parental guns a’ blazin’, we need to step back, take a deep breath and consider what’s best in the long run for our kids. Letting them learn to accept situations and move on is far better than teaching them that a lawyer is just a phone call away, ready to settle our every grievance, eager to defend us in every circumstance in which we feel even vaguely mistreated. Sometimes helping our kids grow up requires that we do it too.