Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What in the HELL Happened to American Sports???

Sports is a GREAT instructor of children, because it teaches you, early on, how cut-throat competition can be. Every team wants to be the champion, but only one team can, the other dozen or so teams are various shades of “losers,” at least to the kids themselves.

As much fun as winning is, it’s losing that really builds character. Every kid should suffer through at least one hopeless losing season and have to drag him or herself out there for “team pride,” which is REALLY self-pride.

In some quarters the concept of “winning and losing” are deemed (by pussy-parents) to be “too potentially damaging to a child’s self-esteem.” So in those locales, scores aren’t kept as if that makes it so that “everybody wins.” Whadda bunch of dopes!

Don’t worry so much about little Johnny’s self-esteem Mom and Dad, worry about him hitting the curve ball, OK!

Recently there have been a couple of sports stories that really shake your faith in America.

The first broke this past May, when Jaime Nared (above bottom pic), who is just 12 years old and already nearly 6-foot-1 and apparently is blessed with Jordanesque skills.

In basketball games, the Beaverton, Oregon 12-year-old can more than hold her own against the boys, sometimes scoring 30 points or more.

And that’s become a problem.

“She's so good,” Michael Abraham said, “she makes the boys look like scrubs.” So she's being punished, told she can no longer play on boys teams at The Hoop, a private Beaverton basketball facility that runs a league in which Abraham's teams compete.



Why not show a little backbone instead? If someone is scoring at will, field a couple of goons to “deliver a message.” Nothing says, “Don’t showboat in our building" more clearly than dropping a player on his or her ass a few times!

I dated a woman who was a leading scorer in women’s collegiate basketball when she was in college. God bless her, she insisted on playing in playground games with me against the guys. She quickly found out that chivalry is very much dead, at least in the sense that no guy is going to let some woman embarass him on the basketball court, at least not without making her pay. She was good about it, noting "fouls are just part of the game." Believe me, I KNEW that first-hand, being decked pretty regularly myself. Natalie played well and scorched a fair number of guys, and most of all, she was a good sport and took winning and losing with equal grace, which is the true mark of a champion.

Now, nine-year-old Jericho Scott (above top pic) is such a good baseball player, that he too, is being deemed “too good.”

The right-hander already has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.

Way to teach your kids how to be wimps for life losers!

Worse still, is the specter of favoritism in this case, as Jericho's coach and parents say the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league's administrators.

Jericho instead joined a team sponsored by Will Power Fitness. The team was 8-0 and on its way to the playoffs when Jericho was banned from pitching.

"I think it's discouraging when you're telling a 9-year-old you're too good at something," said his mother, Nicole Scott.

Competition is GOOD for kids, just as it’s good for businesses...and, to be truthful, for EVERYONE! It helps less talented kids learn to improvise and adapt. Sometimes you’ve got to bend the rules to make things work for you, sometimes you’ve got to deck the other guy to send the proper message.

That’s competition!

That’s sportsmanship!


heidianne jackson said...

jmk, i couldn't agree more if i had written this myself. thanks for such a great post.

you said "As much fun as winning is, it’s losing that really builds character. Every kid should suffer through at least one hopeless losing season and have to drag him or herself out there for “team pride,” which is REALLY self-pride."

great, great insight my friend. it's important to note that obama isn't really accustomed to losing and so has never really had that character building opportunity. perhaps this election season will provide that for him.

we can only hope.

JMK said...

THANKS Heidianne!

I figured you'd agree with the idea that competition is good and your never too young to learn that some days you win, some days you lose.

Shielding kids from that reality weakens them irrepairably, in my view.

I don't know what to think about the coming election, there's still so much that COULD and very possibly WILL happen.

I think we have two very weak choices and I'd tend to agree with you that McCain looks like the less destructive of the two choices (I DON'T like McCain, so that's the very best I can say about this choice)....but I believe it's going to be a very, VERY close election.

Vee (Scratch) said...

When I discovered both new stories I thought they were hilarious. Reality is often stranger than fiction. It is sad in many ways and really kills the spirit of competition.

As far as the baseball league is concerned they're teaching young kids how to quit really early when the going gets tough.

Cool blog, I'll check it out often.

JMK said...

Thanks Vee!

As to "As far as the baseball league is concerned they're teaching young kids how to quit really early when the going gets tough," I believe that's 100% right on the money....and it's a real shame.

One of the most valuable things that athletic competition teaches kids is that there will always be those better skilled and less skilled than yourself, as the vast majority of us fall somewhere within that vast middle.

And by doing that, showing us the great pantheon of varying skill-sets, it also inculcates a sense of humility and makes vital the cammeraderie of the TEAM.

It also shows, over time, that talent alone does not guarantee success.

Michael Jordan wasn't the best leaper, or even the most athletic player in the NBA during his reign, guys like Darnell Hillman and Kenny (Sky) Walker were more naturally atheltic, but Jordan was possessed of great talent along with an even greater work-ethic. Jordan made himself into a clutch performer down the stretch, by greatly improving his mid-range jump shot and working tirelessly on his defensive skills. Jordan LEARNED to make those around him better players.

There's no reason to keep kids like Jaimie Nared and Jericho Scott off of teams. To do so is an afront to sports AND sportsmanship.

Winning is fun, but some of life's most vital (and profitable) lessons are learned on the seat of your pants (from losing).

Why are so many parents so determined to shield their little Johnny's and Susie's from learning some of life's most valuable lessons?

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