Last night, at my daughters All Star softball tournament, the parent coaches should have been thrown out of the game for doing what they did to their team of 8U girls.
The game started off great, where both teams were playing their hearts out to be one of the final two to make it to the All Star Championship. You could see it in every players eyes and action that they were giving more than 110%. What should have been a proud moment for both teams turned out to be a heartwrenching ending.
It was the bottom of the fourth with only four minutes left in the game and the opposing team was up at bat. The opposing teams coaches knew if they could finish the inning in four minutes, they would be able to play another inning, which is the inning that allows for unlimited runs.
Our team was in softball ready position, eager to stop every hit that came their way and make the out. We watched the opposing coach walk out onto the field. This was the inning where coaches only pitched, giving the players a better opportunity to hit the ball if their coach was a good pitcher.
I took a deep breath, having some relief that it was the bottom of their batting order. But these were All Star girls, which meant that all could hit, keeping every one of our fielders on their toes. I watched the opposing coach pitch his first pitch. It was super high. So high that his batter had to leap off the ground to try to even tip it. None of us thought anything of it, because every coach has pitched a bad pitch. But then the second pitch was high and the third. At first, I thought, "There is no way a parent would ever try to strike their own batter out, especially an All Star player in an All Star game; and for that matter, to an eight year old child!" It was when he pitched an unreachable high pitch to his second batter that my body became numb, realizing he was purposely striking his players out. The fans started to boo. Everyone knew what he was doing was unethical and unforgivable.
I can't even explain the sadness I felt for the opposing teams girls who were struck out. You could see it in their eyes that they were doing everything possible to try to hit every pitch their self-centered, cruel coach pitched to them. They had no idea that their coach was purposely striking them out.
Winning is such a wonderful feeling. But losing, knowing that you gave it your all is just as great of a feeling. This coach took that away from those girls. He was trying to win for his own personal selfish needs. These girls were out there to learn the game, develop skills and to be taught what sportsmanship is. Winning at all costs will never make you a winner.
In hindsight, I think the umpire should have stopped the game and asked the opposing coach to be replaced. Those girls deserved better. We as parents and volunteer coaches have an obligation to not only teach our children appreciation, responsibility, respect and ethics, but also to be the best role models in the process. This father, this coach, failed his child and team, and now he has to live with his actions.
We won the game. And we won it fairly. I hope that the above story helps you stop and think about how your actions and words affect your child. Kids need parents to teach them that it's okay to win and lose. But cheating and doing things unethically will never make you a winner.