I understand when something good happens for our team or our kid on the field we are going to get excited. There is no doubt that emotions kick in when we see our kids getting on base and scoring runs. I want to win as much as anyone, but there is something happening that I have to take issue with. Part of my issue is seeing how it impacts one player and the second, how it might mislead another.
There are many ways a player can get on base. Some of them are the result of great things that they do at the plate: A clean single or a hard fought battle where they work the count and get walked. Others are the result of things that the defense does or, doesn’t do. Reaching on an error or dropped third strike or four-pitch walk where the pitcher is clearly struggling are still good for the team but clearly less a result of what we did as a hitter.
So I say it is great to celebrate like crazy when you do something good. It’s great to cheer your lungs out when your kid gets a big hit or makes a great play. These are the things that deserve to be celebrated. They need to know that they did something great and deserve the accolades which accompany their efforts.
But…we also need to remember that celebrating someone else’s mistakes too enthusiastically, is a negative for everyone involved. First, the kid on the other team who messed up is still a kid, not a professional or college athlete with the maturity to handle the situation, who already feels pretty bad about letting their team down. How much do we gain by cheering like crazy about the mistake that someone else made? Secondly, shouldn’t our player who benefited from the mistake made by the other team see the difference between the two?
Which leads me to the extreme version of this discussion where I have seen parents of a team, not only celebrating the errors of another teams players but, embarrassingly, trying to increase the pressure on the kids to make more. The sight of parents screaming “I’ve got it” when a pop up gets hit or chanting “Ball 6, Ball 6, Ball 6” when a 12 year old pitcher has just walked one hitter and is 2-0 on the next is down right disturbing. I know these are not every-day occurrences but I have seen it enough that it caused me to write this blog.
Celebrate when your kid does something great and remind them that the instances where the other team makes a mistake is likely to help our team win but isn’t something that needs to be celebrated to the same level. Teach our kids the “Golden Rule” of treat others the way we want to be treated. Since they have all been on the negative side of this narrative they can relate to it very well. And please, for the love of God, stop trying to make the other kids make more mistakes!
You’ve all had to console your kid when they feel terrible about a mistake they made. Please try to remember that the next time you want to do the Hokey Pokey when your kid reaches when another kid messes up!