The anonymous letter below from a boy to his father, shows the mature attitude of some children when faced with the negative interference of parents and/or coaches in team sports. This interference sometimes causes a child to abandon an activity that otherwise might lead him or her away from a life of inactivity, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, or even serious criminal involvement. Many people believe and in most instances it’s been proven that healthy adult habits are formed in childhood These habits include but are not limited to….becoming a working member of a team, honesty, respect, knowing how to lose and/or win, discipline, responsibility and personal accountability. All of these and many more can be gained through and from an active interest in sports. On the flipside though the message is clear – bad habits can also be learned that usually will last a lifetime. Here is the letter (re edited only re the format and with a few grammatical changes. The message from the original hasn’t been changed in the least)……………
“My Dear Dad,”
I have to tell you, I don’t know if this is the best way for a boy nine years old like me, but I have to tell you anyway. It’s because I suffer a lot, you see? When I’m supposed to be having fun. I say that because when you make me play something, I thought it was for the reason of having fun.
I used to like baseball. I don’t anymore, because I suffer. I thought that playing baseball was supposed to be just that – to play. Between you and the other parents of the rest of the kids on the teams, it makes me crazy and I don’t want to even put on the uniform anymore.
On one of the days when I was catching and only because our usual catcher didn’t come that day, I threw to second base when someone was stealing. You screamed at me, “don’t throw the ball like that, it’s too high!” The truth was that I didn’t even think that my arm was strong enough for the throw to even reach the base.
That day, Sunday, was when I was going to have fun after being in school all week. I didn’t tell you anything because I didn’t want you to grumble, but my left hand was really hurting after the game. I think it was because I had never played Catcher before. I usually play second base. The Catchers mask was heavy and one pitch hit me in the arm. It hurt, but if I had said so, you would have been angry at me, like you always are when we lose a game.
I used to make believe I was Roberto Alomar when I was playing second base. Now though I don’t like it very much because people are always yelling bad things at us if we make an error including you. All of us on the team have been talking about it and some have decided not to play baseball anymore because they just want to be happy like all the other kids who don’t play baseball.
Our head coach also suffers when everyone yells and also because when we lose, all the parents complain that he made bad substitutions. Every parent wants their kid to play and the head coach can’t play everyone at the same time at the same position. Even when we win though nobody ever congratulates him.
I’m very sure dad, that you think you’re doing the right thing. But do you know what I heard? That a lot of parents want to pressure their sons to improve their game, even if he’s not having fun or not. You’re not like that are you dad? Because that would be very bad and I know you’re a good person.
I forgot how to hit dad because when I’m standing there, the people start to say and yell things at me. They tell me to move here or move there and I get confused. They don’t even know though that what they’re yelling is different to what we practice.
I don’t understand dad but I really want to. To see you so worried when you’re watching me play is very hard. You know dad, I love you very much and I don’t want you to suffer because I don’t know how to play the way you want me to play, like Roberto Alomar or other major league players.
“Many kisses, your son, (who doesn’t know how to play catcher).”
With thanks to Mike Young, current fielding consultant to the Proteas (South African) cricket team and previously with the Australian national cricket team.