It's been so long since I wrote a real post that I don't know where to start. So I will start with baseball.
Our small town has little league baseball through the parks and rec program. I have never been athletic and was not in softball in my youth, but both my brother and sister were. My parents were on the Little League board for a while and my mom ran the concession stand for a couple of summers. Back then that was the way kids spent the first part of their summers. We played on little league teams twice a week during May and June. Towards the end of June there were tournaments. Season and tournament champs were awarded trophies by the fourth of July. Just about every team had an entry in the parade on the fourth. These usually amounted to the team, in uniform, riding in the back of the coach's truck and throwing candy to the crowd.
I asked Mom how many teams there were back in the day. She said she could remember there being 17 minor boys teams (1st through 3rd grade), including teams from surrounding communities (Weldon, Van Wert, Murray, and Woodburn when my brother first started playing). Local businesses sponsored the teams. Every team had a photo posted in the local paper. Coaches were usually parents. For the most part the goal was fun with some education of the way the game was played, teamwork, and to win a few games thrown in.
We all know times have changed since we were kids. My older two boys are in baseball. Colby is in PeeWee (1st and 2nd grade), which means that everyone bats every inning and coaches pitch to their team. Braedon is in Minors (3rd and 4th) and they play a normal game for the most part. They have strikes, balls, and outs. Both boys have good coaches and are enjoying the season. Ron is assistant coach for Braedon's team. What I think is a little sad is that there are four teams for each of these age groups, compared to 17 twenty years ago. Some of this is due to less kids getting involved in this past time. Some of it is also due to the change in focus.
We have 'traveling teams' in town and the lines are drawn very early distinguishing between the good players and the not so good players. The best players join the traveling teams and devote lots of time and energy improving their game. These players begin practice in the winter and will play nearly everyday all summer long. I have mixed feelings. I am all for perfecting a skill. I do wonder sometimes if we are putting too much emphasis on winning anymore. Maybe it's always been that way and I just have a tainted memory. Maybe I'm in the minority because I was never an athlete and I can't appreciate what all is involved. I do worry that parents are setting up their wonderful athletes for disappointment and failure if their body gives out on them. What if you have set your sites on a ball scholarship to get you through college and you have an injury that prevents you from completing this goal? How many athletes get burnt out on the game when that becomes their life? How many are unable to explore other possible interests due to their full-time job in sports? How many kids are unable to learn about a sport because they don't think they are good enough to play? How many families limit their time together to time spent developing their sport and throw family dinners, and other activities, to the wayside?
It makes me a little reminiscent for the old days sometimes.