I write this letter as a former Little League Officer, coach, parent, and now grandparent. It may have been quite a few years since I have served as an officer and coach, but the ideas and concepts haven’t changed.
Little League sign-up is going on and even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, spring will be here soon and the ballpark will be buzzing with activity (see sign-up times at end of letter). The Little League organization is not perfect – it’s only as good as the officers who run the league and enforce the rules, the umpires who make the calls, the coaches who volunteer their time to teach children much more than tee-ball, baseball, and softball, and the parents who sign up their children to play a team sport. Through playing team sports, children should learn fair play and sportsmanship – win or lose – the concept of working as a team to reach a goal and doing their best at all times no matter the outcome. A coach has a lot of responsibility to try to instill these concepts into young minds while teaching the fundamentals of the sport and not getting carried away with a ‘we’re going to win no matter what’ attitude. When that attitude pops up even though they may win the games by ‘not so fair’ means, they will lose much more than they gain. Mainly respect from other coaches, parents and the people who attend the games.
Little League Officers and Umpires also have a tough job. They must enforce the rules fairly among coaches and teams – even though many of the coaches and team player’s parents are friends. As an officer or umpire you probably won’t win any popularity contest during the season if you are doing your job! Someone is always going to be upset! But if the decisions are made following the rules and they are administered the same across the board to everyone (no favorites or giving into pressure), people usually will grumble but will comply. Respect is earned and the league benefits. Otherwise, everyone loses!
Parents – now that’s another whole subject. I know from experience we all think our children are the stars of the team and should be treated that way. Remember, it takes a team to win. One person usually can’t stop a ball in the outfield, run to home base, and get that out to win a game. It takes practice and working together. It takes a team!!! Give the individuals praise for a job well done, then give the team the credit. It’s a life lesson!
No matter your roll in team sports, you have a job to do. Be an example and do your best to let the children see you give your best through respect and fair play. Someday in the future one of those grown-up children may see you out somewhere and say – ‘Hey I remember you. You were my coach! We sure had fun didn’t we?’ There is no better feeling than that.
Mistakes are made, feelings get hurt, tempers may flare, but in the end if we remember and follow the Little League Pledge everyone wins!
Little League Pledge
I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best
Please sign up and support your South Cheatham Little League:
February 16th – 1 pm – 4 pm Harpeth High School
February 22nd – 8 am – 4 pm Pegram Recreation Building (Old City Hall)