When you have children in sports...not just casually but actually dedicated, putting money into it, ever consuming sports, you really gain a lot of knowledge on people and politics. I'm not sure if it is harder lessons learned for the kids or for the grown-ups. For me, I think it is much harder.
When you watch your child take a new risk and succeed it is heartwarming. Then you watch your child pour their heart and soul and sweat into really pushing themselves to be better because they want to not you, it makes you proud. You watch your child perform on the court or field or whatever platform it is for their sport and you see their determination has really paid off for them, they are succeeding and learning that putting your mind to it and giving some effort to it always pays off and you smile to yourself and hug them. Its rainbows and glitter.
But behind the scenes and unfortunately sometimes in the foreground, the pecking begins. The whispers of the parents, the huddles before/during practices, the scurrying to walk with the coaches, and the sideways glances all are very much apparent. You try to be ambivalent to it but then you start to worry you will be excluded from some oh so important knowledge that the other parents may have that you don't. You see those parents that scurry from parent to parent telling them what they want to hear and then re-arranging it again and again to fit whomever it is they are speaking to. You see the parent that talks smack about the players and coaches to other parents and the naturally deny it when you confront them. Everyone wants to their kid to be the star - EVERYONE. Some folks will take it a bit further than others is all. Some coaches only become coaches for this one reason.
My daughter has been in softball since her T-ball years, then slow pitch and now fast pitch. She has so many great memories and so many friendships formed from this sport.
Rec ball taught us about politics and bullying but it was just rec ball and fun. Tournament rec ball was more of an eye opener to more of the inner workings of sports and recruiting. Then we enter the Travel ball arena. WOW. Really just WOW. Without really getting into the horrid details of the ridiculousness of the backstabbing, lies and cut-throat goings-on, I just want to say that I was totally unprepared. I have never in my life been a person who has succumbed to peer pressure or contributed in petty name calling or behind your back whispering. Now that I've seen this in full force by grown-ups and how grown-ups can forget that these are actually 13-14 year old girls, I can say this is most disheartening. I've been given the advice from some wise parents that have gone through this and they have told me to just be silent and enjoy the games and memories made with your child. It ends up being better for your child in the end - because then nothing will be spitefully taken out on their playing time. I've been trying to heed this warning. This is by far the hardest thing I've had to do for my daughter. Seriously.
Our travel ball tournaments will begin in a few weeks. I hope work ethic and dedication will win out over the daddy-ball and behind your back politics. Time will tell. Wish us luck!