Hey, you in the bleachers

Most obnoxious fanAt first glance you might think this is just another pic of my son playing catcher, but if you zoom in and look between the batter and my son, you will see the fan that would've won the "Most Obnoxious" award in this game -- if I had one to give. One thing I can thank her for is that she is the one who inspired me to finish writing this story, finally.

Hey you in the bleachers,

Too bad you think practice or game times are inconvenient, but the coaches are volunteers who most likely have other paying jobs. Can you imagine that your son’s coach might have left work early or ducked out of a meeting so he can coach your kid and 10 or so other kids besides his own son? Who do you think preps the field before the game? If he’s your kid’s coach, perhaps you should get to the field 30 minutes before the game (when the players are supposed to arrive) and ask him if he needs any help.

Hey you in the bleachers,

Umpires are human and at the U9 level – unless it’s a playoff game – they’re kids. This means you should do a better job of concealing your “expert” judgment of their calls. Chances are, they’ve taken umpire training and they actually play baseball, whereas you most likely have not and do not (and if you did and do, you'd certainly be more respectful). Some 14-year-old umpires have been calling games for three seasons now, which is likely a lot more experienced than most of the fans in the bleachers (or even some of the coaches at the U9 level). You need to set the example for your kids to respect the umpire, which includes shaking his hand after the game in addition to the kids’ and coaches' on the opposing team. Even if you don’t respect him, pretend you do. And if you can’t do that convincingly in front of your kids, make the point that while you don’t agree, you are still going to abide by the umpire’s decision, because that is how it works in baseball. The umpire is always right, even when he’s wrong.

Hey you in the bleachers,

This is a local recreational baseball game, it isn’t the World Series. It isn’t even tournament baseball (though I have heard of one local team that stacks their team that way). It is also isn’t your game, it’s your son’s (yet, because I do understand the need to empathize with your child so you can effectively manage the car ride home, this is something I need to remind myself of as well). You are not standing in the batter’s box and you are not pitching. You are not deciding whether or not you can steal second and you are not the one in the outfield trying to figure out if you should go for a diving catch, let the ball hop once, or if it’s really the short stop’s play. You do not need to pace up and down the first base line and coach your son from the sidelines. He has a coach, and it’s not you. If you were the coach, you would not be sitting in your spectator chair, and (this applies to the woman in the photo above) swilling what I am sure was your morning cocktail, because you became louder and louder as you tipped thetravel cup at an ever-increasing angle.

 Hey you in the bleachers,

These players are just kids who are learning to play the game – and hopefully enjoy it. Help them love the game, not just love winning. Nothing will ruin a kid’s enjoyment of a sport more than a parent who is overly invested in the outcome or one who chastises him or offers unsolicited advice the whole way home from the field – or who leaves the game if his team is losing. Some of the best things I have heard coaches tell their players – that are the right things for you in the bleachers to say, too -- include, “good play,“ or “nice try.” Stick around after the game to let your kids share the victory or shake off the loss with their teammates. An impromptu home run derby or game of pickle is an excellent way for kids to ease into the next thing (with no worries about the car ride home). Plus, you’ll have time to help the coach rebuild the pitcher’s mound and rake the batter’s box.

Caroline B. Poser <><



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