Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Youth Sports Season(s)

It is hard to beat the feeling a parent gets when their son (or daughter) succeeds.

I mean, from the time my oldest was two years old, I couldn't help but secretly think he was the smartest, most creative little guy around. Of course, on days when my mama-ego was tame, I'd notice the other kid with the better vocabulary and neater picture of a head with stick legs and arms and no body. And I would politely give kudos to that kid's mom, and then I'd think, "What am I doing wrong?"

Four kids later, I am NOT that bad. I am first to say, "Oh, he doesn't have the knack for that," or... "I am not going to push him if he's not showing interest..." or, "He doesn't need to be the best, just try his best." With the many talents, strengths, and abilities out there, I know my kids can't be the best at everything ;).

The other day though, I re-evaluated myself on this very topic, because I had a niggling of doubt that my old flaring mama-ego had really cooled over these years.

It was when I talked to parents with more experience in the arena of youth sports and school ball, that I began to have an all out gonna-fight-for-my-kid-cuz he-deserves-it fit.

This kid--he lives, breathes, LOVES baseball. And he's gotten pretty good at it. He can definitely pitch a mean curve ball, a smooth fast ball, and rarely gives up any runs (see this...I am bragging a bit...ugh). So, it's natural, as an All-American kinda mentality, to believe that, by-golly, the kid's gonna play in high school. There is only one more year til he's there. I mean, he would be devastated if he doesn't.

But being in the school district he is in, and the competition all around, there is a very really chance that he's not going to be the all-star pitcher for his humungo school...and he's not going to necessarily get a scholarship to play ball at a Big Ten school...Wha??? Really???

What would he do with himself? Where would he get his self-esteem? It's his passion...dare I say, calling?

And that is where the rational side of me kicked in: YOU ARE INSANE-O!

I drank the koolaid! And now I am spitting it out all over my kicking and screaming mama ego. There are a couple things I tell myself, and I am sure to tell my son during these next few years left at home:

1. Your abilities are just God-given tools to love others.

Youth sports are amazing at building character: We have seen the fruits of this in each of our kids--self-esteem, teamwork, determination, and healthy sportsmanship. But, it can also build identity in a heavy-handed way, and that in itself can take a toll on character because it makes your ability more important than your true purpose.

Character and compassion for humanity are what point you to your purpose (to glorify God by His LOVE)--even on a ball field, or in the stands, (or for me, in my stories). Let's not confuse ability with purpose.

2. Enjoy the MOMENT aren't guaranteed anything later.

Life happens in seasons. Baseball might be a sport that carries over life's seasons of club ball to school ball to college...(heck, it carries through all four seasons of our year right now), but academics will carry over a lifetime--and regardless of the culture, that's what high school is about!

Oh dear. I just shake my head when I think about how this youth-sports-obsessed culture really sunk it's claws into my already-primed mama-ego. It is hard not to let it. There is nothing better than cheering your kid on and watching him earn that "well-deserved" trophy at the end. Makes a mama proud, and turns an eighth grade kid into a baseball champ--for a season, anyway.

What is your take on youth sports?

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