Facebook and Twitter are great tools for sharing the news of exciting things that happen in our lives. It’s also a great way for us to brag on our kids and players when they do something special. There is nothing wrong with bragging on a success, but there is something else that happens all the time that needs a little further review.
Once upon a time there was a television show called “Dragnet” where they always used the disclaimer that, “the case you are about to see is true, but the names were changed to protect the innocent.” Well, this is one of those stories.
One of the kids I work with came in all excited because she had hit her first over-the-fence homer. It’s a great accomplishment, no doubt, and I was already aware of it because I saw several posts on social media about it. What I also noticed was the handful of cash she was waving in the photos.
Now rewarding an accomplishment with some sort of cash bounty is pretty common practice. We often hear about X number of dollars for every A on a report card, or that Grandma and Grandpa giving a few dollars for some other accomplishment. So the fact that this phenomenon has now carried over to softball isn’t a revalation, but I do have some questions.
When a player gets a cash reward for an accomplishment ,are we reinforcing the right things? Are we encouraging a player to think about team first or focus on hitting another home run or throw another shutout so that they get another payday. And is there supposed to be an escalating pay scale? A first-inning homer is $5 but a game winner is more?
I understand in the real world of adult decisions we are often rewarded for doing a great job by getting a bonus or raise or promotion but are we creating a skewed view for our kids when we start paying them, I mean really PAYING them, for on-field success? And what kind of dynamic does it create within a team when teammates know that a player is getting paid for individual accomplishments that might not always be directly tied to team success?
Now I’m not saying that a great accomplishment shouldn’t be recognized, but I do think we are better served with praise and accolades more than a cash pay day. And as that player moves up the ladder, they are likely to move into situations where they are going to be expected to think about how they can help the team win versus how they can get rewarded (paid off) for individual success.
Next big accomplishment, try a pat on the back, some heartfelt praise or maybe even an ice cream cone or special dinner rather than a handful of cash. Let’s see if she is any less motivated to try hard without a payday on the line.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.