By Ty Webb, baseball dad, Zen Buddhist and heir to Bushwood Country Club
Summer is almost over. While many of us have taken a break from baseball or softball, some of us are getting ready for fall ball.
Every day, we all read and share various baseball memes online. Some center on motivation or crazy stats that no one knew. While many of them are informative, those that center on accountability always resonate with me as the parent of a baseball player.
This might sound ground breaking, but creating a culture of accountability starts with parents first. So please – and I urge you — stop walking around carrying your son or daughter’s bat bag at every practice and game. Drop it. Step away from the bag and walk away. I’m serious.
Get the — away from it!
“But, but, what about?…”
Easy, Killer. There are exceptions to every rule, and this isn’t about every parent. There can be no doubt that the son or daughter who puts on catcher’s gear in the sweltering heat deserves a break at the end of the day. I’m also not talking about a 6-year-old who can’t tie his/her shoes yet. I’m talking about what I see almost every week at tournaments and practices across every age group, not only at home, but hundreds of miles away when traveling for tournaments.
Some parents need to stop carrying equipment bags if they want their kids to take true ownership of baseball and beyond. That sounds heavy, but it’s not. Take the bat bag off your back. Stop carrying their stuff. Your kid played SS the whole game. Johnny and Kelly aren’t that tired, so stop placing them on that pedestal.
(I’m not sure who the girl opposite Johnny is supposed to be, so I randomly chose Kelly).
Some of you think I’m nuts to write an article about carrying bat bags. Maybe you think such a small issue doesn’t really have much of an impact. However, if you think about the types of behavior that plague travel sports, especially baseball, is this that insignificant?
Consider this. How many memes and posts do we see on IG, Twitter and FB by college and high school coaches who are fed up with the assumptions and entitlement of today’s youth athletes? How many bratty players have you seen after games yelling at their parents, demanding money for the snack shack and saying how bad the umpire was while the kids text on their phones? We have all seen them, to the point that they have become stereotypes of the sport. Now visualize that boy or girl and ask yourself, “[w]ho is holding their bat bag?” You might be surprised.
Any parent who reads this and has a child in hockey, lacrosse or swimming are probably laughing right now. Why? It’s because those sports specifically address this issue at young ages, because it promotes accountability and sets the standard from Day One about being responsible. You forgot your water? Oh well. You won’t forget it next time. You have to carry a heavy bag of gear as a goalie? Tough. We didn’t force you to play goalie. You forgot your cap and goggles? You won’t ever again. I’ve heard of coaches who specifically advise parents not to ever pack anything for their kids prior to practice.
Imagine that for a second.
Yet in baseball, I see parents packing up their kid’s equipment in the dugout and carrying their gear like it weighs 50 lbs. If other sports are addressing this issue as a way to establish the foundation early on, what is baseball missing? It is program specific? Maybe it’s because coaches are scared to confront parents who will complain. Maybe it’s because they don’t see how important it is because they don’t think it can make an impact. It can.
Last week I saw a boy who had to have been at least 13U have his mother carry his roller bag into the complex. That wasn’t the worst thing I saw. I saw a mom who carried around an umbrella for her son while he walked. He was again, older. Sure, it was hot, but really?
Baseball and Softball as sports teach us all lessons that are much bigger than the game itself. It’s a nuanced game where attention to detail means everything.
And there you are, carrying that bag to the car…