“Oh, put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today …”
Today’s youth take it all in. Wherever they go, whatever they do, they understand what is happening in the world around them. Don’t think for a second they are oblivious.
And, for those of us who are parents to middle school-aged children, we have our work cut out for us.
We tell our children to be patient, kind and understanding. We tell them to do their best, never give up and shake off the negativity that comes over them like a dark cloud on a sunny day.
But what happens when what we tell them as parents isn’t what is presented to them in school or in extra-curricular activities?
Do we intervene and pull teachers/coaches aside, expressing our concerns in private? Do we demand that our children be “put on a team” because it’s “unfair” that he/she tried their best for two years in a row, but in the end, didn’t make the cut? Do we tell our children to speak up for themselves knowing they may not want to hear the truth?
Being a parent of a student athlete is tough.
We encourage our children to “go out for the team” and cringe if they are cut, knowing we will have to put a band-aid on their emotions. But, what if they aren’t cut, but instead make the team to only “suit up” and never play?
Which is worse?
At the middle school level, it’s the experience of being on a team that is the life lesson. No one cares how many wins or loses a team had – because no one is being scouted or recruited by colleges or pro-sports teams.
My dad coached basketball for 25 years. He allowed every player “play time.” And, when his team was ahead, instead of running up the score, he allowed for his “second string” to hit the court. It was his way of allowing them to show him what they had learned at practice.
It isn’t like that anymore.
Middle school students are still trying to figure out where they belong, but when coaches, who should otherwise be role models, cater to only a select few, what is that accomplishing?
Nothing. It accomplishes nothing except creating a mindset that that player is unworthy.
And those select few players will never forget that feeling. And parents are left picking up the pieces.