Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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They’re Watching

Pretend you’re somewhere between 8-12 years old. Who do you look up to? Maybe a professional athlete or super hero? Now, picture yourself as a high school kid? You’re probably wrapped up in thoughts of yourself and what the new cool thing to do is.

Not all high schoolers are like that. Some are selfless and kind and are just great human beings. We are blessed to know a few of these kids. We mostly know them through baseball and other sports our kids play. These are the kids who come spend time with the 8-12 year olds. These are the kids that understand what its like to look up to older kids. They take the time to say hello or give a high five.

Yes, my kids idolize professional athletes, but they also look at high school athletes like they are celebrities too. If you’re a parent of a high schooler, remind your child that someone looks up to them. Remind them that their actions are not only being scrutinized by their peers but by those little ones that see them in the neighborhood or on the ballfield. Remind them that they too were young once and looked up to a high school kid. If just one high school kid can give a moment of their time to a younger kid, I think it could have a huge impact on the future. Making positive connections with others in life can be so important.

It’s one thing for us parents to teach our children life lessons, but it’s an absolute game changer if that life lesson is taught by an older kid.


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Book Review: What Made Maddy Run

When I was told I need to read this book I wasn’t too sure what it was about. I was told that it was about the pressure put on kids in sports, so, of course I was interested. But, the book was so much more than that.

I’m not going to lie, it was difficult to get through. Maybe it’s just me, but I have trouble reading non fiction books. I read to escape everyday life, so reading about something real is difficult. Reading about something that hits home is doubly difficult! Let me give you a little background.

Maddy was an all American girl that appeared on the surface to have it all. I say it appears to be that way because we can’t deny she had mental health issues. I think the misconception with mental health is that people don’t realize it can happen at any time in your life. For years, Maddy seemed to have it all. She was beautiful, got good grades and was a tremendous athlete. Towards the end of her high school career she was being sought after by numerous colleges for soccer and track. Every athletes dream and hers as well.

Ultimately, Maddy chose to run track at the University of Pennsylvania. The book focuses a lot on the fact that Maddy wasn’t sure if this was the right decision. She was debating this choice or going to LeHigh for soccer. The book makes you think that these choices could have potentially impacted the outcome. I’m going to tell you, either choice would’ve ended the same. Maddy was the type of kid that needed and longed for perfection. She needed to be the perfect student, the perfect athlete and the perfect friend. She was so consumed with this ideal of perfection that she didn’t live in reality.

Another theme throughout the book was Maddy’s social media accounts and in general teenager’s use of them and not being able to separate screen life and real life. If your mental health is questionable the lines between the two are very blurry. Even if your mental health is in check, those lines can still be blurry. I talk to my kids all the time about surface-level friendship. Most of social media is that way. You truly don’t know the person behind the pictures. It is so important to have deeper relationships with people. So, that if there’s an issue, they’ll know and they can try to help you. I’m not saying that Maddy’s friends could’ve helped her, but I do know they didn’t think things were that bad. A lot of the onus lives with Maddy on that one. She was really good at keeping things from those closest to her…and that’s the truly scary part.

To wrap up, here are my thoughts and I’d love to hear from you if you read this book. Somehow we need to change the conversation about perfection. It’s absolutely unattainable and whether you or someone else puts that pressure on you to be that way, its wrong and needs to change. As parents, this conversation begins with us at home. This book has helped me with the conversations I’ll have with my kids moving forward.

If you’re interested in reading the book click the image below.
 (affil)


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Ask Yourself, Can You Commit?

So your kid wants to try out for the [insert sport here] travel team? Is your family ready for the commitment? Do you have what it takes? Does your kid have what it takes? This is something at Sports, Love & Family we feel very strongly about. It’s one of the strongest life lessons we’re teaching our kids.

Before you jump on the travel team band wagon there are some things you should ask yourself and your child. First, are you as a parent ready for this commitment? If you are not willing to drive your child all over the county for practices or games…you are not ready. If your social calendar is booked every weekend…you are not ready. If you don’t enjoy spending hours watching sporting events…you are not ready. If you purchased a vehicle based on seating availabilty and trunk capacity…you are ready. If you seek out sport events even if you don’t know any players…you are ready. If you are not ready for this type of commitment then there’s no point of asking your child if they’re ready. It begins with you. If you can’t give it your all, then don’t bother. The goal is to be an example to your child and if you can’t fully commit, then don’t do it.

Once you know you can commit, now you need to discuss what the commitment looks like with your child. Make sure you’re being honest with your child when you talk to them. Let them know how often practices are, how long and far away game days may be. Let them know how long the season is and if it interferes with other sports or activities they like to do. Because, parents, let’s face it, this is their first commitment they will make and how you handle this sets the stage for later in life.

At Sports, Love & Family we are fully committed.


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Life Lesson: Persevering through Adversity

What do you do when faced with adversity? Do you back down and give up or do you push yourself to the limit? Many of us learned this lesson on a ball field or court early on. The way we reacted to a challenging situation then, may not be the way we’d handle it now. However, being a parent allows us to use the insight we gained at those times with our children today.

Our daughter’s basketball team was playing another team they’ve played four times in the last two weekends. After that many games in a short time you learn a lot about the other team and each player. Our daughter ended up defending the same girl in each game. After the first game it became apparent she was an aggressive and “dirty” player. Last weekend she handled her very well. We were very proud of how she worked through that challenge and persevered.

However, after playing this team four times our girl was pushed to her limit. The fourth game was different. The other girl was more aggressive and dirty. She was actually being told to behave that way from her parents in the stands. Clearly, her mom and dad haven’t read our fan behavior post. At the beginning it looked like our child was getting the best of the other girl. I was proud in that moment, because I felt like she was pushing through everything this girl was trying to throw at her. But, as the game went on the physicality of it got worse. She hadn’t dealt with that before. I could see the frustration begin to build on her face.

After the game we walked over to tell her how proud we were of her. We let her know that she played the game the right way. It didn’t matter, the tears began to flow and she didn’t want to hear anything we said. She didn’t care that we were praising her, she felt like she didn’t handle it well. Her frustration was at an all time high. Her and I walked down the hall to the bathroom, all the while I was saying all the right things (in my mind).

After a few minutes in the bathroom of me trying to talk to her, I realized it was a lost cause in this moment. She was running on adrenaline and emotion. I tried to compete with that by using all the things I’ve learned from every sports article I’ve ever read.

We both learned something in that bathroom that night. I know that in those few minutes after the toughest game she’s played thus far she wasn’t hearing me talk about persevering through adversity and being pushed to your limit, but she did store it away in her mind. I also realized that I need to let her have space after a game. It’s ok for her to be emotional, all of the emotions, good and bad. I can talk to her about the life lesson she just learned first hand…but next time I’ll wait a bit.

This day was not about us helping our daughter in that moment, it was about giving her space so she could figure out how to work through the situation in her own time and way. On this day, WE learned a life lesson through sports.


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I Argued with an Umpire

By now you probably get that we advocate appropriate behavior at sporting events. Certainly arguing with an official is not something we advocate. But, we are guilty of doing it. It’s not one of our prouder moments, but we did it and then we learned from it. It’s a motto we’ve been telling our kids since they were babies. When you make a mistake, own up to it, learn from it, and move on from it. We talk about this a lot in our house and Todd and I walk the walk as best we can.

Todd will tell you that as a coach he will argue with an official, and he’s ok with that.

“I will argue over a rule infraction or player safety. It is important to stand up for your players. Other than that you’re just being confrontational and a bad example.” – Todd Deutsch

As a coach and a parent our goal is to keep our children safe. On this particular day the situation arose where there was a play at the plate. I don’t know about you, but I hold my breath at these moments. Our team was on defense, so it was their runner versus our catcher. When it came time for the runner to make a decision of sliding or continuing to run, he chose to jump over. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but it was scary to watch. Todd immediately ran to argue the play with the umpire. In his mind this was both a rule infraction and an issue with player safety. The baseball rule book states that “…jumping, hurdling and leaping are all legal attempts to avoid a fielder as long as the fielder is lying on the ground. -note: diving over fielders is illegal.”

Of course this particular umpire didn’t like that Todd was letting him know he didn’t know the rule. He proceeded to eject Todd from the game. My husband is non -confrontational and not a yeller. But, put a child in danger or break a rule, he’s all over it. He never got belligerent with the umpire, and in fact I was pretty proud of the way he handled it. Nonetheless, he was ejected…for the very first time in his 17 year coaching history. I proceeded to “discuss” the rule infraction and even showed the umpire the rule book. Again, he was not too happy to have someone point out that he didn’t know the rule, so he kicked me out too.

So, here we are. Both of us leaving the field area. One child on the field playing and the other two in the stands. After our anger subsided, embarrassment set in. Not from our behavior, but what it looked like to our kids. Our kids didn’t see us fighting for something we believed to be right, our kids saw their parents arguing and subsequently being told to leave. They were embarrassed.

We’re sharing this story with you to let you know we all make mistakes, we’re all human. But, it’s what we do after that mistake that defines who we are. This event was a turning point in our sport-parenting. This event was a catalyst to change. Make no mistake, I was in no way an obnoxious fan; but this did make me realize how I don’t want to be perceived by my children. They are the reason I’m at these sports events and they are the reason I’m now a more silent supporter.

7 Ways How Yelling at Officials is Hurting Children
http://play-by-the-rules.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources/R108_7-ways-how-yelling-at-officials-is-hurting-children.pdf

We’re all human and we make mistakes
https://www.theodysseyonline.com/parents-and-coaches-back-off-the-referees


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Staying Positive When There’s So Much Negative: Part III

This is probably the toughest one to write in the series. No one wants to see their child or another child being mistreated. It’s also hard to look back at a situation and see all the times you could’ve done or said something differently. I’m hopeful that this post will inspire someone, even if it’s just one person, to speak up in an awkward situation.

Here’s a little backstory. A few years ago we had a coach with the wrong goals in mind. You’re NOT a good coach when winning is more important than the physical and emotional welfare of your players. This person didn’t turn out to be what a coach should be, but I didn’t always feel that way. I thought they were knowledgeable and a nice person, and would be a good coach. All of this being said, I still had some concerns due to their intensity on the sideline. Note to self (and others) if there’s a parent on the sideline who is so intense you can’t stand sitting near them, don’t let them coach your kid! That intensity doesn’t go away, it only gets worse when given a position of power or authority.

At first things seemed fine. But, then we would stay at practice and witness the tone and words being spoken to the players. Certainly, not how I or Todd would deliver a message but it was only a little yelling and maybe some berating. It’s ok for kids to be exposed to that, right? Wrong, we were so wrong to let this go on. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, do something about it. We didn’t. We thought handling the situation with our own child was the best way to handle it at the time. After each practice when our player was upset about what was yelled at them at practice or how they were treated, we discussed coping mechanisms. We discussed “the message” that was being yelled, not the delivery of the message. We thought having these conversations with our child was going to make them stronger and more adept at dealing with tough situations. We thought at the time we did what we were suppose to do and we thought we handled it well. We didn’t. Looking back at the situation we feel that having those discussions with our player were valid, but something more should’ve be done.

We let our feelings for this coach get in the way of our judgement for our child and other children. We justified situations that arose because we liked this person. I’ll be the first to admit, we were blinded by friendship and that betrayed our child. Let me be clear, I’m not advocating that if you don’t like a coach or you don’t like their coaching style that you should have them removed or that you should go to the governing body of that sport. What I’m talking about is abuse, mental or physical, either way, it’s unacceptable in the youth sports arena and should not be tolerated.

This situation was a turning point for me and my behavior. It made me step back and realize how I wanted my children to see me at their events. After living this situation I became a more silent supporter of my children. This is why I encouage you to take a look around at your kids next game. Evaluate other parents behaviors. It will make you see how you want to be. And, if a situation doesn’t feel right, say something. We teach this practice to our children, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do the same.

This is a good article with tips for dealing with a tough coach. We did some of things in here. All ok if the coach is not being abusive.

https://www.mentaltoughnesstrainer.com/bad-youth-sports-coaches/

This article is great if you’re struggling to know if you’re dealing with a bad coach. Our coach fell into these categories.

https://www.competitivedge.com/you-are-not-good-coach-when-you


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Staying Positive When There’s So Much Negative: Part II

Last post we discussed one of the little negative situations our children experience in sports. This time we’ll discuss one of the bigger things that’s a little harder to control…someone else’s actions. Whether it’s your child’s coach or parents in the stands, negativity is like a spider web, it spreads and everyone gets caught in it.

Trust me when I say, I’ve been here before and it’s a real bad road to detour down. I’m here to help you stay off that path. And believe me, it will only benefit you and your family to stay out of the web. It’s so hard, I know. But, do it…actually just don’t do it. Stay away, stay far away!

We talked last time about shutting down our kids conversations when they want to complain about teammates, or coaching or ref calling. We discussed how unproductive these conversations are. The same goes for parents on the sidelines. Youth sports have become a social activity for many. So, this means lots of gossiping and chitty chatty happening in the stands. Fine, discuss the who’s who of your town or what’s the best nail color to get, but don’t ever let these conversations become about what’s happening on the field|court. What I mean by that is, don’t bad mouth the coaching staff or any of the players. This is how it becomes a web and sadly, it only takes one negative person to get it going. If someone tries to engage in this type of conversation, shut it down. It’s so hard to do. If you just can’t do it, walk away, or re-direct the conversation. I’ve actually been in this situation and have gotten sucked in, and then after the game went to the car feeling horrible. We tell our children to stand up to bullies, yet, we ourselves have a hard time doing it.

So, that’s an easy solution for stopping the negativity in the stands, just squash it, don’t engage in it. It’s difficult to do, but give it a try for all involved.

But, what if the negativity is coming from the bench, meaning the coach. We’ll discuss that in Part III of this series. Read this article from heysigmund.com. about toxic people and the affect it has on kids. In the meantime, check out this book that we loved. It really opened our eyes to the criticism we were putting on our kids and changed the way we talked to them after the game. And Cal Ripken is just an awesome guy!