Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The World of Little League

There are many advantages to living where we live. Our weather is almost perfect 10 months of the year, the beach is just a few miles away, we can be snow skiing in the mountains in less than 2 hours, we have all the major sports teams in the area, our schools are fairy solid, and crime is relatively low.

The problem with all of these great things is that millions of other people have figured this out as well and, in my town,
we are unfortunate enough to share this discovery with many affluent people. I'm not against affluence; in fact I wouldn't mind experiencing some every now and then. What I am against is the attitude that comes with many who are affluent.

This year we finally entered the world of Little League Baseball in our town. This is a normal part of growing up in most places, but here in Mission Viejo Little League is where parents begin their crazed passion for making their kids into great athletes and selfish competitors. For those of us who believe that sports are intended to be fun and that they should not require all of our time and money, our kids are at a disadvantage.

My first impression with this new world we have entered came at the first week of practice. The kids were going to practice batting so each kid put on his own personal batting helmet. My son was told that he could not practice batting because he did not have a helmet. When I told the coach that we will not purchase a helmet because the league said they provide them he seemed dumbfounded. He knew that was the league policy but he and the other parents could not fathom a 7 year old baseball player not owning his own helmet. Finally one mother felt so uncomfortable with the absurdity of excluding a kid for this that she went home and got an old one for my boy to use.

We were grateful to her but disappointed that the culture I live in expects everyone to have the best of everything and to teach elitism at such a young age. What happened to the good old days of every kid in the league using the same sweaty and haggard helmets and the whole team sharing one beat up bat? Our uniforms were often recycled and our gloves all belonged to an older brother at some point. If we lost a ball in the bushes we had to look for it and if our cleats were not brand new we could still run fast.

I pray that I can help my boys know that they can be great without all the attitude and all of the newest stuff. I also pray that I can remember that most of these parents are a product of this culture as well and they can benefit as much as me in seeing true contentment and humility modeled.


Kevin said...

Wow are you kidding me!

I was always provided with helmets and bats in little league. I wasn't about to go buy all of that stuff.

Remember when half of the helmets had the foam padding on the inside all worn down so it kind of hurt to even wear the things?

That was my case in the Ft. Lewis league!

Ryan said...

We are not supposed to buy our own, it is just that everyone does so there is a pressure to do so. I figure if we are the only ones who do not buy our own, my boy will have the team equipment all to himself and it will be like his personal collection.