Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Take me Out to the Ballgame!"

Romans 12:4-5
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

"Remember success is a team sport. Success is not shaped in a vacuum; it takes a team of like-minded people moving in the same direction to successfully achieve success. Everyone on the team plays a unique role and contributes their part to the overall success." ~ Larry Lewis, http://networkedblogs.com/tqoib

When my son, Daniel, is age seven, he asks to play baseball. I am thrilled as I am a big believer in team sports for children. Learning teamwork at an early age sets the groundwork for success in school and in life.

We sign up to play in the county-sponsored little league. After seemingly endless bench-warming sessions watching his team practice, the day of Daniel's first game arrives at last.

Play ball!

My daughter, Sarah, and I sit together in the stands with scores of other parents and siblings. When Daniel comes to bat for the first time, we hold our breath, cross our fingers.

Let him get a hit. Oh, please, Lord, just one hit . . .

The first pitch is a solid strike over the plate. Daniel doesn't even swing.

"Way to go! Just two more strikes! He can't hit!"

I am appalled.

In the stand of the opposing team, a parent is screeching at the top of her lungs. Daniel can't help but hear her.

Strike two!

This time, Daniel swings. And, misses.

As the pitcher prepared to deliver the next ball, the woman is egging on the crowd.

"Strike him out! Strike him out! Strike him out!" Rolls the thundering chant.

I peer anxiously at Daniel's face. His jaw is clenched determinedly. Eyes riveted on the pitcher.

Just . . . one . . . hit . . .

Smack!

Right over the pitcher's head.

Right into the shortstop's mitt.

Wild cheer from the opposing team's over-zealous fans.

But, it isn't just them. From the parents of our team emerge the same derogatory comments directed at the opposing team when they come up to bat. They even berate their own when mistakes are made.

And, yelling at the umpires? Carte Blanche!

I endure the season; a maddeningly disappointing season as, in this negative, childish atmosphere, the boys don't bond as a team. They gloat when they win. They pout when they lose.

They are not taught to encourage each other. To work together. To understand good sportsmanship.

To win with humility. To lose with grace.

To value the contribution of each team member.

To know that true success comes only when one puts the success of another first.
~
Who are the people in your life who have helped shape your success? How have you encouraged others to succeed?

Will you pray with me?
Thank you, Father, for the unique talents You have given to us. Let us use these to encourage and support others on their road to success. Let us build others up, not tear them down. May we, as Christians, work together in faith to bring this world closer to Your kingdom. Amen.

Readings
Psalms 119:97-120 or 81, 82
Genesis 27:1-29
Romans 12:1-8
John 8:12-20

10 comments:

  1. This is so sad and seen often... Children play for the fun but parents take it to level where the game becomes competitive and ugly... Competitiveness is good as long as it is done with dignity and grace..

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Savira, thanks for stopping by today!
      This was a very sad experience for us. Fortunately, I got Daniel into a church-sponsored league where this behavior was not tolerated. He ended up having a wonderful experience, finally, with team sports.
      And, yes, competition is great if it is done, as you said here, with dignity and grace.
      Blessings to you! :)

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  2. You are hitting a home run, there, Martha. Our generation of parents, and the one's coming behind, need to step back and note what is important about sports.

    Sports are like surrogates for life. Right there on the baseball diamond, a child can play out every emotion of life, and learn to cope with those emotions...or not. And the parent has so much to do with it.

    I can remember playing my first year of little league, 8 years old, over at Thompson Park. I was on the Colts. We had won our first three games. At 8, I had never tasted what it was like to lose. Life was good. Game number four came and we played the Panthers. We got spanked! I was so upset. I cried. Nothing could have been worse...ever.

    So my dad comes up to me and put the whole experience in perspective. Having grown up in the Great Depression, lived through WWII, he had quite a perspective to impart. He just summed it up very simply and said, "Son, you can't win them all." Ain't it the truth. What a life lesson!

    Yes, even in losing kids can learn valuable lessons, if the parents would just teach them.

    Rather than getting mad at the umpire, rather than screaming for the other team to do poorly, parents have the greatest opportunity to teach life lessons, in a purely academic setting, that will potentially stay with their child for his or her entire life, lessons like, "You can't win them all."

    Just that one utterance from my dad put the whole thing in perspective. It put winning and losing in perspective, put the importance of practice in perspective, put the importance of good sportsmanship in perspective. And because sports are a surrogates for life in so many respects, it helped to put life in perspective, which is a vital responsibility of parenthood.

    Thanks for bringing back that memory this morning and have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Hank, what a great memory this is! Thanks so much for sharing it here with everyone.
      Your dad put it all in a nutshell for you, didn't he? What simple words, yet so profound! And, yes, it does pertain to life - we cannot win or expect to win all the time, and winning does not measure our overall success in life. Sometimes losing, or failures, teach us so much more . . .
      Thanks so much for stopping by today!
      Blessings always!

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  3. I agree with the above comments. Parents are often the problem when it comes to team sports involving their children. I agree team sports are a wonderful opportunity for learning but all to often they become just a time of torment for those not so gifted.
    May your prayer be heard.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Hocam, thanks for dropping in today!
      I hear you about the "torment" for those children not as athletic or naturally talented as others. The desire to win, win, win, often leaves these children warming the benches at every game and never participating unless the other team is being roundly stomped.
      We were fortunate after this awful experience to play in a church-sponsored league where everyone got the chance to participate. Sure, winning was important, but not the end all/be all. My son had some wonderful years here!
      Blessings!

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  4. Today Parents take everything so personally and pressurize the kids into competitiveness in a very unhealthy way. Values are diminishing.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Janu, thanks for dropping in today!
      I agree that there are too many parents trying to experience success through their children's accomplishments. It's such a shame they don't model the values of good sportsmanship which is exactly what makes for healthy competition.
      Blessings to you!

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  5. I think I need more practice...both on playing ball and working as a team.

    Sometimes, teamwork is sacrificed for the sake of winning a trophy and popularity. Who scored the most (as a player)?

    But the truth is work, play or any other thing becomes more fun and less stressful when everybody's united :)

    I pray with you...may we be united in One Spirit ~ love binding us all...

    I love this Martha. I think I'd like to be one of the cheerleaders instead :P

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Melissa!
      It does take practice to learn to work as a team; that's why I wanted both my children to experience it. Luckily, we eventually found a baseball/softball league where they learned good sportsmanship, teamwork, and had fun doing it!
      Your comment about being a cheerleader reminded me of the four years I was one in high school. Yes, I think we are natural cheerleaders - offering encouragement to others.
      And, my God answer our prayer that Christian everywhere be united in love and in the spirit.
      Thanks so much for coming by!
      Blessings always!

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