Fall Ball

Fall is in swing and this year, we're even a little more busy than we have been before.  In August, we signed Ben up for his first baseball season.  He's one of several four-year-olds playing in a 5/6 coach-pitch league.  We're very proud of him and he's got some solid potential to be a much better ball-player than his dad.

Ben's an Ola Bulldog.  He's practicing once a week and playing games twice per week.  He's one of the few kids that hits more of the pitches the coach throws and uses the tee less.  He's got some decent power too, which is a good thing, especially since he runs like his dad (SLOW!).  

Earlier this week, Ben was presented with the game ball.  He had a night that he hit 3 for 3 and drove in a couple of runs.  His coaches decided he should take the game ball home and I have to say, it goes on the list of my proudest moments.  

To top off the great play, Ben's made me proud with his ability to show good sportsmanship.  He's competitive, but never gets down when he doesn't get a hit and encourages the other players around him too.  He's out there having fun - which I believe is the most important thing, especially at his age.

Now, I know there are parents out there who are saying, "I don't think so.  Winning is the most important thing."  I want to go on record and tell you that if you believe that winning is worth sacrificing your integrity and your character, then you disgust me.

Ben had a game this morning.  I left disgusted.  Not because Ben's team lost, but because of the attitudes of the adults in the bleachers and in the dugouts.  Early in the game, there was a dispute over when the ball is dead and whether the runners were allowed to advance or not.  An umpire changed his call at the insistence of the other team's coach (a mistake NO umpire should make), opening the door for one of Ben's coaches to protest.

Because of the protest, three of the parents for the other team verbally threatened Ben's coach.  "You better have your buddies with you when you head to your car after the game," they said.  Explicit language was used.  The young umpire, intimidated by the situation, did nothing to move things in a positive direction.

Thankfully, the threats were idle ones.  No fights broke out.  No property was damaged.  No more words were spoken.

But I still left shaking my head and asking to myself, "Really?  Who were the children at the ball park?  The short ones or the tall ones?"

Sadly, this isn't something new.  One of the leaders in my church once worked as an umpire for all levels of amateur baseball.  Bill has told me that his least favorite to umpire was little-league.  Not because the game moves slower and there aren't that many exciting plays, but because parents just don't know how to behave.  Threats and unnecessary language are a regular part of the job.  More ejections take place in little-league than in the other leagues, by far.  Misbehaving adults have prompted zero-tolerance policies to be put into place, resulting in lifetime bans for parents and coaches that get out of control.  I'm trying to understand why this is even necessary.  I'm at a loss.

We go to church.  We read our Bibles.  We hear about things like sportsmanship, love, kindness, and grace, but we act like competition transcends these things and brings out our animal-instinct and our sinful nature.  

I lament the fact that every day I see ads on TV and in the mail for our upcoming mid-term elections that do little to promote any candidate, but strive only to bring down the opposing candidate.  I'm saddened by the fact that all politicians want to do is tear each other down and tell us what's wrong with the world.  We know what's wrong with the world, we don't need to be told.  Instead, why not act like the good person you claim to be, rise above the fray and make the world a better place through sportsmanship, love, kindness, and grace?

I'm depressed when I read blog posts by pastors who are being attacked by other pastors.  Ministers stand in their pulpits and degrade the church down the road simply because they do ministry from a different philosophy (and usually because the other church is drawing and affecting more people - penis-envy for churches).  Whole churches refuse to communicate with each other or, heaven-forbid, work together to be Christ's representatives to the world.

Why can't we behave?  

Our bad behavior puts a bad taste in the mouths of people that watch from the outside.  It causes us to lose the respect of the world, and it damages younger generations.  There's a lot wrong with the world.  Last time I checked, the only ones to blame were ourselves.  We can blame, we can fight, we can take an eye for an eye, but the world won't be any better, we'll all just be blind.

Go Bulldogs!


Christine said...

I dread this! June is still only 3 but I am sure we'll encounter it someday soon. Did you consider saying something to the parents? My husband probably would have put on his church name badge and walked over to stand by the offensive parents. I probably would have just silently seethed.

Alex said...

I didn't get the chance to say anything. One of the adults with us got sick and I ended up tending to him (divine intervention? perhaps).

Looking back, saying something probably would have just escalated the situation, name tag or no name tag. It turns out that every team in the league has has problems with this team, it's coaches, and it's parents.

I have to say, another adult in our group was an off-duty Georgia State Trooper - a good person to have on hand, just in case.