Please forgive me for stealing the thunder of an old cigarette advertisement for this blog. I think it was Taryton, but I’m not sure anymore, when the actor would talk about how he would fight rather than have to switch brands. Of course, there are no cigarette ads on TV anymore, but I thought this was a great title for this blog.
In NASCAR, they talk about the silly season. In the NFL, MLB and NBA it’s free agency that allows players to look for the next best place to play. Whatever term you want to use, the idea of switching teams has become so common place in the world of travel softball that it makes your head spin.
I know it seems like ancient history now, but not that long ago, players would make up their minds to fight to stay on a team rather than jump ship. When a player was faced with a challenge for a spot in the lineup they responded by working harder and committing to the thought of earning more playing time on their current team rather than moving to a new team. Your parents would work hard to help you improve and show the current coach that you did indeed have what it took to contribute.
Then something drastic happened. Long gone are the days of working to earn more playing time, replaced by the “grass is always greener” school of thought. If I’m not playing as much, or where I want on this team we will go looking for a new team with greener pastures and the promise of more time, usually with less work. Parents became agents, helping their kids negotiate a new landing spot, more than ever.
The days of working harder to stay on a team became extinct. Even to the point where if a player can’t negotiate the right landing spot on a current team, Dad starts a team of his own and guarantees that his child would be used properly!
Yes, there are some circumstances where a player leaving a team is the right thing to do. There are cases where a player and coach just don’t mix, but shouldn’t we have figured that out before we joined the team to begin with?
A good friend of mine, Chris Fritts, tells a story about how if you are in a room with a group of people and you can’t identify who the problem person is, it’s you! What’s the point you ask? Is the problem with the team or is the problem with you?
If your child is collecting an amazing amount of softball gear because of the number of times you switch teams, it may be time to ask yourself that question.
The next time you walk around the park, try to keep track of all the times you see a player and her family in one uniform “talking” to a coach or group of coaches wearing a different set of colors. It’s not uncommon for this to be going on in every shady spot at the park.
No pun intended.
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. ;