Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Than The Balls Are Foul

Ya know, I really do try not to be one of those moms that get disgruntled just because their kid didn't get to play as much as they thought they should. I've never claimed that as good as I believe my children to be that they are the best athletes ever on the team. I've always tried to teach my boys that no matter how unclear it may seem, the coach surely has a master plan for every decision he makes. I've worked hard to instill in my boys a sense of good sportsmanship and respect for the coach, no matter what.

But at this particular moment in time, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to continue preaching that, let alone practicing it, with Jock.

Yes, he made the baseball team when there were others who got cut. BUT.... he made the team as a player, not as one of the managers. He busted his butt to get his one failing grade up to passing in time for the first game of the season (remember the stupid English paper we spent the entire weekend on?), and he made it, too. He has continued to give 110% each and every practice, quite honestly playing circles around some of these other kids. He is respectful to the coach, and often stays after practices to work some more on various things with him. He is always supportive of the rest of his teammates, even the extremely cocky and obnoxious ones. He is the first on the field to congratulate someone on a great hit, as well as the first one on the field at the end of the game to rake the infield.

At practice, he is consistently hitting; and hitting well. He has been proven several times over to be the fastest boy on the team. He can play several positions well, never limiting himself to only one or two positions the coach can use him at.

Now.... ask me how many times my boy has been up to bat in six games. Ask me how many innings he's played ANY defensive position on the field. Go on. Ask.

In six games, he has been up to bat exactly THREE times. In six games, when the average player gets up to bat three times in one game. And he's only been placed in the field ONCE.

And yet, the kid who spent the entire first half of the season ineligible, only pulling a miracle out of his .... ear on the very last day before he would have been cut? He gets to play the entire game his first game back.


Yes, he's used as a "courtesy runner", which if you know anything at all about baseball is a position they only have in Little League and High School. After that, it doesn't exist. Have you ever seen a major league game where the manager tells the umpire he's sending in a courtesy runner? No. What they do is make a substitution, and the player sent in GETS TO STAY IN. But hell, even as a courtesy runner he's only been in a handful of times.

My boy, who loves this sport, is beginning to hate it. He's disillusioned with the idea of "fair play" and is now feeling that his own skills are simply not there. He's always been honest in admitting that there are boys on the team better than he is. All he's asking for is a chance to prove something outside of practice.

And quite frankly, we are at a loss as to understand what reasoning his coach has behind this, if indeed there is any outside of blatant favoritism. In fact, there have been several other parents who have come up to us at the last couple of games and ask us why Jock hasn't been playing. They've watched him at practice. Their sons talk about how Jock should be out there with them on the field, and they are questioning why he isn't. I'm rather scared that there is about to be a somewhat larger than small revolt by the parents against this coach. (No, not just because my son isn't playing. There are a lot of other issues as well. This is just the one that concerns ME the most right now. Maybe if Jock was actually playing more, I'd care more about the other issues.)

I don't know what to do anymore. Jock says that if he goes to the coach with his concerns, he's running the risk of being kicked off the team. While I have no idea if this is true or not, we've suggested he doesn't approach this with a "Why?" question. Rather, we've told him to ask the coach "What can I do to improve my performance and get some field time?" That way it looks like he's taking the responsibility for why he's not been playing. We keep telling him not to quit, that the JV and Varsity coaches are still watching, and will make note of the players who stick with the team despite the difficulties. We remind him that he has good relationships with both the JV coach and the Varsity coach, and things are bound to be different with them. And last, we just remind him not to give one man enough power to take away his love of the game. That coach only has the power over how Jock feels about things if Jock gives it to him.

My heart is breaking for my boy. And there is nothing I can do about it. I can't fight this battle for him, as that only makes things worse. Although, how much less playing time is there from NONE? But we don't want him labeled as the kid with difficult parents for the rest of high school. So we'll keep going to all the games. We'll keep supporting the entire team. We'll still be proud of Jock for being the best he can be, and for knowing that he's supporting his teammates wholeheartedly.

But deep in my mama's heart? Well, all I'll say is that there might be a secret hope or two that someone, not saying who, only that he's been with the team longer than anyone else on the standing in the path of the next foul ball. And that it comes flying in at shin level.

(What? I don't want him dead or with a coma-inducing head injury! Just a bruise or two. Maybe a limp for a couple of days.)

*sigh* And yes, I know I'm going straight to hell for that thought.


Anonymous said...

Ug...that's the worst. My oldest desperately wanted to pitch in our community league last summer, but the coach wouldn't give him a chance. Now, you have to realize...this is a whole different thing, where it's not really very competitive and it's mostly to teach the kids the ropes. And my kid's not hugely talented or anything. But he wanted a chance. So one day after he was majorly upset about it, I told him to ask what he could do to get better at pitching. What else can you do? I feel for you, and for your son. Good luck!

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

You are so NOT going to hell...just mommy purgatory and only then briefly!!

It's ok to be totally pissed at the situation. Sounds like favoritism is at play here. Keep on him to approach the coach like you suggested.

It might just work. And if it doesn't, you can always get a stingray to jump out of the ocean and hit the coach in the head.

Now, who's going to hell?

Hell, party of 1!

Hallie :)

jennifer h said...

This is rotten. But you're handling it exactly right. And your boy will be stronger for that.

Good luck with all of this.

I hear people get to drink and play poker in hell. (But you're not going there for those thoughts.)

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I'd say you have come up with the perfect way to approach the coach.

Not at all comforting to Jock, but comforting to me: All though grade/middle school, the coach's daughter was on my team. He was a really good coach (coached for the college, in fact), but he couldn't get past his obvious favoritism. His daughter played every game all game. While she was good, she wasn't that good. Anyway, last I heard, she had ballooned up to over 200 pounds and was doing a whole lot of nothing. See? That makes me feel better. ;-)

Amy said...

"What can I do to improve my performance and get some field time?"

THAT is excellent advice!
It sounds like a tough situation, but you are handling it very well.

My mom petitioned to get one of my coaches removed. At the time there was a lot of support and she succeeded. The next year we had a different coach and I discovered that no coach is perfect and you got to learn to deal with the one you have. I also discovered that it is NOT good to have a mom who will get coaches fired. I played a lot of sports and my mom was known as the one who got my freshman softball coach fired. NOT GOOD!

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Have you considered a bribe for the coach?

The Sports Mama said...

You guys are all making me feel much better about my mean thoughts! A stingray, Hallie? :)

LBB, we actually started laying the groundwork for a good relationship with this coach last year! My husband coaches Little League, and last year we had this coach's son on our team. He's quite the little know-it-all, but Jock befriended him, and defended him to the rest of the team and kept a couple of them from beating him up! He let this kid hang out with him all summer, too. If that didn't work, I don't know what will.

Stella said...

If you're going to hell for that thought, I'll see you there because I've thought much worse!

That really does suck for Jock. As a player my inclination would be to either keep my mouth shut and do what the coach says or quit because I would grow to hate it, too. As a parent, I would want to talk to the coach and see whats what. It's thin, crappy line that gets walked with sports and it's so difficult to navigate it!

Karen said...

I would think that approaching the coach as you've suggested would be a good place to start. Would it be inappropriate or hurtful to Jock's position if you approached and questioned the coach?

April said...

I think you're handling it really well. The only thing I might add is to let your son know that you also don't agree with what the coach is doing, but sometimes, even when we disagree, we still have to respect the title if not the actual person. I remember having a similar experience with one of my teachers in junior high, and the way my father helped me deal with it helped me through the nightmare bosses that were to come later in my life. But if you acknowledge to your son that you understand how he feels, that'll help strengthen your relationship and help him hear you more with the whole "respect him anyway" message.
Good luck!

Blog Hoppin',
Balancing Hops

Rockin Austin said...

Honey, if you're going to hell then I will be there with cookies waiting for you. ;) This coach sounds like a jacka$$. I know how much talent your boy has, he should be playing more. As always, your writing is fabulous. ;) Love you!

Honeybell said...

We just finished with this problem in basketball . . . with a 9 year old! I confronted the coach when I discovered my son had been told to NEVER try to make a basket when he was actually playing - he was to always pass to one certain boy. Coach got defensive, started spitting out his winning stats, etc. I tried to explain I could care less about the winning etc. But was a basically pointless conversation. The thing is, my son is GOOD. (I mean, he IS 9, but still pretty good). ANyway, we will not have the same coach next year.


Flea said...

Oh no girl. You are fantastic parent's offering him all the right advice, but thinking shin-breaking thoughts? You are a better, stronger mama than I, to stop at that. I applaud you.

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LunaNik said...

Oh honey, I don't have any good advise to give as I don't have to deal with this sort of thing yet. However, I do think that the advise, guidance, and support you have provided for Jock thus far is wonderful.

Good luck!

LunaNik said...

Oh, and btw, the title of this post...yeah, it made me spit food all over my keyboard...thanks for that!

Jen said...

I am SO not looking forward to these situations in my future!

Great advice to your son. My brothers dealt with stuff like this in school.

Shellie said...

I have seen this happen a lot. Sometimes all you can do is just take deep cleansing breaths ....