In a post-game interview on Opening Day, the National’s Bryce Harper wore a hat which read “Make Baseball Fun Again”. This past weekend and this upcoming weekend mark Opening Day for many of the area Little Leagues and Recreation Baseball Leagues. Bryce’s hat and these Opening Days are connected in my opinion, even though the hat’s message may have been directed at MLB.
In my last blog entry I wrote about youth baseball and my experience within it. Bryce’s hat got me to thinking that every parent and guardian and coach and League Administrator for that matter should receive one upon registration. We need to make baseball fun again for the kids. After all, isn’t baseball a game?!
Today, too much emphasis seems to be placed on Travel, Metro and Select teams. I know because I bought into it myself as a coach and League Administrator. I was told the League needed Travel Teams so that we could have a Tournament to make money for the League; we needed Travel Teams in order to attract players to the League; we needed strong Travel teams because we had them in the past. I had an “in-house’ team and a Travel Team as a coach and the emphasis by the League on the Travel Program took me away from the very reason I got into coaching: a love for the game of baseball and a desire to share that love with the kids. I became more of a coordinator than a coach. It wasn’t fun (my son told me so as he played on both teams while playing for his Middle School team as well). That year coupled with a huge dose of League politics led me to “retire” from coaching youth baseball.
Keep in mind, the greater majority of the kids playing will make their living doing things other than playing professional baseball. It is a game to them and we as adults need to respect that and make it fun for them; we shouldn’t take it so seriously. Let the kids PLAY the GAME…isn’t that really what it is all about?! The kids won’t make all the plays, the coaches will not make all the right decisions and the umpires won’t make all the right calls. If you sit back and watch it you will have fun and see some things you may never see again. Let the kids play and be kids and it will be FUN for them.
Play catch with your kids.
Ask them if that night’s game was fun; listen to them talk about the game instead of them listening to you talk about the game.
Make baseball fun again! Listen to Bryce’s message. It resonates on so many levels.