Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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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!