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lessons from the bleachers

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I spend a lot of my time on the bleachers. There are days that I don’t want to be anywhere else and there are days when I struggle to not pull out some work. It seems to be the one time when I’m not working, that I can do just one thing–watch baseball. I watch my son play baseball. He is in the local Little League. His team consists of 10, 11 and 12 year-olds. There are tons of benefits to his participation: exercise, teamwork, social skills, perseverance, etc. I think it’s great that he has this opportunity. Some of the kids on the team are pretty good and some not so good. My son probably falls somewhere in the middle. The kids are great and so are the coaches.

What I find to be the most interesting is the other parents. Not all of the other parents. About half of them are pretty chill. During a practice, they might read a book or chat quietly with each other. During the games, they are cheering the kids on and enjoying themselves. It’s the other ones I’m referring to. The ones that scream at their kids to make better plays or allow veins to bulge in their neck and forehead because a 10 year-old child swung at a ball that was at eye level. I just don’t get it. These are children who are “playing”. Although I don’t get caught up in professional sports, I remember my father yelling at the TV during sporting events. My rational in being ok with the latter is that these are adults making serious money. They are paid handsomely to only swing at strikes. And even then, they make an out more than half of the times they are up to bat. What would make anyone think that a child could do better than that?

At last night’s game, we were getting creamed by a team we had beaten the week prior. This was exceptionally hard on “those” parents. As I watched, I started to make a connection between these people and the people we know who make a lot of noise on the perimeter of our lives. You know, the ones who critique and voice displeasure even though it has nothing to do with them. They should be mixing it up in their own game, but instead stand on the sidelines and mock. I came to the conclusion that it was good practice for the kids for later in life. After the game, I asked my son if the comments bothered him. His response was, “What comments?” I hope he is still saying that 30 years from now.

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