This may be an unpopular opinion. But, it’s still mine.

We hear a lot on social media about team sports. Especially baseball. About how parents are over-the-top, and too competitive, and are living vicariously through their children. We all know someone a little like that, I get it.

We hear a lot about how we are too hard on kids these days and how everyone should just lighten up and let everybody win.

But, have you ever asked a nine-year-old?

A kid who has been in the game since he was three?

A kid with Braves pennants all over his walls and game balls lining the shelf?

A kid who loves the game so much he does practice swings as he’s brushing his teeth?

A kid who struggled to make the throw from third to first, but with direction and constructive criticism and repetition can now beat the runner more times than not?

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Have you asked them? What it feels like to work at something, excel at something, and love something?

I wonder how they feel about not keeping score. About not earning your position or the win.

Y’all, we keep score in life. Effort and persistence pay off.

Having teachers and coaches to tell us when we need to improve keeps us moving forward, toward our goal.

Praise is needed when a job is done well, with the same intensity as any criticism. Kids thrive on validation—their reps and practice paying off.

Kindness and empathy are so important but a pat on the back isn’t always the only thing they need (sometimes it is the only thing they need, knowing the difference is key).

Kids don’t naturally see their potential. That’s what we are here for.

And, I think there are a lot of kids who get into the game late and do wonderfully. Maybe they played soccer for years and wanted to give baseball a go. I imagine that’s intimidating for the kiddos and parents alike.

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But I hope you’ll see the enthusiasm from parents in the stands comes from so much history with the game. From watching your two-year-old swing a plastic bat, to tee ball and playing in the dirt, to the first real hit in coach pitch, the first game ball, the first slide into second, the first in-the-park homer, the first double play, and the first time on the mound, after dreaming of that strike out for so long.

All of those firsts came from failing, learning, and doing it better the next time. And when they do better, the team does better. And there’s really no feeling like being a part of something—a team.

Here’s to all the parents out there driving to practice, pitching until dark in the front yard, spending hours in the bleachers, buying all the gear, and cheering your tails off for those kids.

They thank you. And if you’re wondering, just ask ‘em.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

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Alana Smith

Alana Smith is a nurse anesthetist and boy mom (ages seven and two) in Birmingham, Alabama. She lives with her husband, two boys, and boxer, Sam. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and when she isn’t writing or chasing little humans, she can usually be found in the aisles of Target. 

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