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The Press Box For April 5

By Staff | Apr 5, 2017

We are in the heat of spring sports competition.

Baseball, softball, track and Little League sports are consuming our time. Some parents have recently said they don’t have time to go to all their kids’ games. I have heard some say it’s not good for them to play sports and others have said, why join a team when you don’t get to play. I have heard comments from disgruntled parents about coaching decisions,. Heck, I even hear it from parents that I favor certain kids in my sports writing. Less grumbling and more involvement is more beneficial for your children. Quit complaining and help out, it’s more rewarding.

I want to make it known right now that I don’t play favorites. I will admit I make mistakes and sometimes kids are left out, but never intentionally Some things are beyond my control when it comes to content in the paper. I believe sports is one of the greatest opportunities a child has to overcome obstacles in their life and all should be treated equally. Getting involved in any kind of extra curricular activity is a benefit to children. Sports just happens to be my favorite!

Athletic competition provides opportunities for young people to learn and grow. If your children are involved in sports, make the most of the opportunity to teach them about important character qualities. No matter how much an athlete accomplishes, they always have room to grow and to excel. They must be eager to learn and willing to accept instruction.

The coach might make decisions you or your child don’t agree with, the referee or umpire might make a bad call, but kids, fans, and parents need to be humble and have respect for authority. We have to learn to deal with his frustration in a positive way. Learning this on the field or in the gym can translate into respect for other authority figures: teachers, bosses, police officers and church leaders.

When things don’t go well for your child, be willing to speak the truth. No one is perfect and that includes coaches, teachers and parents. Sometimes it seems as if coaches are testing your child’s character, but often they are doing what they feel is best and making the call that seems right to them. Martin Luther King Jr. used to talk about an “11th commandment” that prevails in America: “Thou shalt not get caught.” Many people still live by that tenet, but we must teach our children to be honest and have integrity. Sports provide opportunities to do that.

I remember playing summer basketball as and adult and we had a team of high school kids in the league. We had one referee and he couldn’t keep his eye on everything, so many times we had to make our own calls. There were many opportunities to get away with fouls and penalties but we tried to limit that. Many times the referee never saw them, but we did. We knew it, and God knew it.

Our kids need to know that if they have integrity, they will be winners no matter the outcome of the game.

Setting a positive example is the key to teaching your kids integrity. No matter what you say, your kids will remember your actions more than your words.

Your integrity is reflected in the way you cheer at your child’s game and the way you talk about the game afterward. Would you give back a victory in order to do the right thing? What is your attitude about stretching the rules in order to win?

Someday, your child will face defeat and failure. In football, he’ll fumble the ball or miss a tackle; in softball, she’ll strike out; in soccer, he’ll let an opponent past him for the game-winning goal. Whenever there’s a winner, there is also a loser.

I can remember a game in Little League baseball where a player ran the wrong direction and messed up a play for our team. We lost the game because of that but you know what? You’ve got to forget that play and move on. You’ve got to learn how to deal with disappointment.

It’s important for our kids to learn how to deal with failure in a positive way. That lesson, learned under pressure, will help prepare them to succeed in sports and many other areas of life.

I’ve said this a hundred times! Gifted athletes don’t necessarily make the best players. Often, a coach will keep them on the sideline because of their bad attitude. The coach knows a bad attitude can bring down the whole team. Likewise, the best teams are not always made up of the greatest athletes, but when kids accept their role on the team and have a positive attitude about it, they can win. These players focus on the team and the greater good, not their own concerns.

Your child’s attitude, whether good or bad, will determine how far they go in life. Praise your child, they need that. They need a positive attitude above a good performance. Challenge them with the notion that one optimistic person can pave the way for the whole team.

As you know, there’s a lot of posturing and “trash-talking” in sports today, even in kids’ games. In the heat of competition, your child may be tempted to put another player down or pump himself up. He’s trying to feel important. But it’s vital that we teach our kids to show good sportsmanship even during on-the-field battles.

They need to learn to redefine what “winning” means. If they win a game but disrespect or humiliate other players, that is not winning. I may be one of the most judgmental people, I have this habit of accusing kids of not giving it their all or being bad sports, I complain about officials, I complain a lot about parents, but in reality I really just want to see the kids do well. I get a lot of complaints about things I write but I also get compliments. That’s how I feel it is with kids sports. We give them heck when they make a mistake and praise them when they make a great play. No one wants to hear all negatives.

Kids have to have self esteem, sports bring out unique characteristics in children. It helps them discover the ways in which they are special. Maybe your child can’t jump high enough to touch the net but he might be a good shooter from the outside. Maybe it’s clear your daughter will never be the star of the team but perhaps her teammates all look to her for encouragement. Whatever the case, your children will learn a lot about their strengths and weaknesses by playing sports. Sports will give you many chances to cheer your children on, but no matter how they perform, let them know you love them simply for who they are. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com.