Related to my somewhat recent post about mothering in front of one's mother, while at several different kid sporting events today, I had occasion to reflect on something similar. It's not just my mother who is watching me. My kids are laser focused on me while I'm at their sporting events. And not just me, but every other parent there, and particularly parent-shaped coaches (my kids are young enough that all their coaches are parents of a player on their teams.)
Liam had the "winner of the losers" game today for the 3rd/4th place slots in his baseball tournament. His team had played a full game immediately before this one. During that game Liam (as well as 3-4 of his teammates) was hit by a ball (kid-pitched, it happens) on the wrist. He's got a 2 inch red welt, nothing serious but it'll bruise I'm sure. He shook it off (he's that kind of kid, pretty much, so when he *looks* injured, when his face is gray like it was when he broke his arm, I know to take it seriously.)
I give you this setup so that you know that he knows what it's like to be hit by a pitch. By the rules of the league, you get hit, you take a base. It's a rule. (Pitcher hits two kids, he has to be subbed out. Rule.) The games are coached by parents, but umped by a paid umpire. Yes, the umpire is usually a 15 year old kid, but he's been trained by the league and is paid for his time. All the umps have been very good, taking their job seriously and clearly well trained.
During the second game (which for reasons I'll get to in a minute, I wasn't at) Liam was once again hit by a pitch. This one hit him in the hand, then maybe grazed the bat. Unclear, but it hit him in the hand, ump called it, and his (very awesome) coach came out to check on him.
Some parent from the other team, however, took issue with this and hassled the ump, the coach, and MY NINE YEAR OLD CHILD - saying he wasn't hit by the pitch!
Um...WTF lady? There's an ump. It's his job. And the kids are 8 and 9 years old. They're not big into the "fake it so I can make an easy base" bullsh!t. They're just playing a game and learning as best they can. And what on earth is the purpose of arguing with a call like that? What do you hope to accomplish? Change someone's mind? Is it really that hard to believe in kid-pitched baseball that a kid got hit by a baseball?
But I wasn't there, so I couldn't go give her a piece of my mind. Instead, when my son came to tell me about his game it's the first thing he mentioned.
Hear that? First thing. His team was second to last in the league and through this game ended up in fourth place, an engraved medal and everything. And the first thing he tells me is he got hit by *another* pitch and some mom from the other team didn't believe he was hit. He was completely baffled by this. It honestly isn't in his mind at all that somebody would try to fake such a thing.
So there you go. Nice work, fellow baseball parent. Can you keep your big yap shut next time?
She's in the bitty girls league, first and second graders. She's young, but she's extremely tall and mature for her age, she fits in fine though she doesn't know how to play basketball yet. That's one of the reasons we signed her up!
We had the ref from hell.
First game. First and Second graders. They had *no* idea what they were doing. And when I say no idea, I mean running from one end of the court to the next chasing an orange ball with the vague idea of getting it near that net shaped thingy, but that's about it. But that's okay, the league gets them into games pretty quickly, and you learn fast through playing and observing games.
So the ref from hell called almost every violation he could think of. By the end I swear he was inventing violations to call because he was sick of the coaches.
And the coaches?
Sigh. How old are the girls? 7, 8 years old. Most don't even know how to dribble while also moving. They *certainly* don't know what "we don't play back-court defense, girls!" means. Certainly not when shouted at full dad shout volume. And yelling "Anastasia!!! What are you doing over there???? Who are you supposed to be defending?! (strict girl to girl defense required per league rules, no zone.) "--Also at full dad shout volume--is not what I had in mind when signing my child up to learn a new game. The other coach was mildly better, but he got worse over the course of the game.
So the ref's calling every little thing, using hand motions. The girls have no idea what he's calling them for, there were some tears (almost some of mine, but I channel my frustration best via the written word...)
The coaches are no help, continuing to shout from the sidelines, focusing only on the one girl who seems in the wrong place instead of helpful stuff like "eyes on the ball!" or "keep your hands up!" or "stay with your girl."
Somewhere around the start of the second half the ref started to explain things to the girls, like you can't take the ball back and forth over the half court line, and things like that. Finally.
Coaches? They continue to act extremely exasperated that the girls can't figure out how to stay with their opponents
At some point, one of the other team's coaches got exasperated with our coach and yelled at *him.* Now, honestly I was exasperated with our coach and wanted to yell at him, too, but HELLOOOOOO!!?? There's a gym FULL of 7 and 8 year old girls here! They are WATCHING YOU. And they were watching when the ref got so annoyed with all the coaches over-shouting him that he stopped the game so he could berate them.
But what got me the most was how impatient the coaches were with the girls, and how unwilling the ref was to explain or even just give a verbal name to the violations he was calling.
These girls are learning. What on earth are you teaching?