I grew up playing sports my entire life. I grew up learning to respect my coaches, to get along with my teammates, to suck it up when things didn't go my way, and to enjoy the game whether you win or lose... and sometimes that was easier said than done. I grew up counting down to practice, nights running those fields at Arcola Community Center, and stopping at Pangle's store after the night was done to grab some candy cigarettes and a bottle full of sugar to drink. And I'm okay- As Kenny Chesney would say, "We're a little messed up, but we're all alright."
And by alright, I mean I look back on those days with the fondest memories one could have. I ride by Arcola Community Center and see a once thriving place dead as a ghost town. I ride by Pangle's and it's covered with signs in Spanish. And if I dare broke out a box of candy cigarettes for my children to share, I might have CPS called on me. Times have changed.
We live in a world where as a parent I worry every second that I'm going to scar my children for life. Now granted, with me as a mother they will probably need years of therapy, but I try my best. We never try to put pressure on our children, but there are certain things I will chew them out for- Ya know, like not running on and off the field, not listening to their coach, not being nice to their peers... and well I guess a whole list of things. So yeah, I guess I'm a hardass.
I look at the things I get on my kids about,- not saying please and thank you, yes sir, no sir, and I realize these are things that when we grew up were expected. But Times have changed.
I left a camp today where you could sense that many of the parents there thought that their kids were the bomb dot com. Gone are the days of a fun summer camp, kids playing a game they love, and things all for the love of the game. Here are the days of the sense of entitlement and my kid is gonna be better than your kid, and our shit don't stink. Here are the days of buttering up to coaches and politics... And it sickens me.
We live in a world where coaches that are second father figures to our sons and daughters get talked about if they care too much. They need to watch their p's and q's and have a fear in the back of their minds that if they hug, give a high five, or form a bond that coaches should have with their players that accusations will be made. Yet, we live in a world wear twelve year olds are hitting home runs- and I don't mean on the field.
We live in a world where everyone is a winner. We have to give everyone a trophy to protect their feelings no matter how hard they do or do not try. Yet, we live in a world that is made up of winners and losers. It's life folks, just take a look around.
We live in a world where people talk during the National Anthem, kids think they rule the world because their Daddy says so, and they don't know how good they have it because things are just given to them. Respect is a rarity, and to me, that's sad.
We live in a world where it's not okay to "pressure" your kids, but yet travel teams start before kids know how to wipe their butts correctly and it's cutthroat from the word go. We live in a world where soon there will be no three sport athletes because children are forced to choose what sport they want to "focus" on before they have the opportunity to hit puberty and really know what their favorite is destined to be.
We live in a world where at the end of the day, none of it really matters because if I'm a betting woman, none of us are raising the next LeBron James or Bryce Harper. But I get it- we're just parents out to try and give our kids the best opportunities to succeed, make memories, and have fun. I'm a hypocrite if I say I'm not going to continue on the crazy train of private lessons, this camp and that clinic... but for now, I'm going to sit back, eat a bon bon, let my kid's brain rot as he spends a straight hour playing Xbox, and long for the days of orange cones, crappy fields, and pure hometown joy.
And I'm gonna know that it's okay if my kids wind up just being okay. I'll love them if they are messed up, and I'll know that they'll be alright- even if I do chew them out in the car, use a four letter word, and demand a thank you.