My greatest fear in Little League

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

You don’t go into anything significant and worthwhile such as being a Little League president without having a certain amount of fear. If you don’t have fear, it means you’re not paying attention. So, what is my biggest fear?

This year, we’re stressing the importance of teaching the kids how to play and enjoy baseball over simply winning games. If we want our league to grow in this economy, we have to keep the players we have. To do so, we have to provide them with a great baseball experience. We can just have players sit on the bench where they don’t learn, don’t contribute, and don’t feel any self-worth, and more importantly, don’t want to continue playing baseball. We have to keep players motivated and confident, even when the team is doing poorly on the field.

All this is easy to say in the calm of a Board room or in a training meeting. It’s seems rational and the right thing to do. It’s a different story out on the field. The rational part of the brain shuts down, and testosterone and adrenaline kick in. People who are normally calm and mature start carrying on like Billy Martin after four shots of Jäger.

It requires considerable maturity and self-control not to resort to this behavior. It requires understanding that something else is more important. We must remember that these are children. Our responsibility as parents is to teach them to grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. The results of a single game aren’t nearly as important as their long-term development as people.

This is my fear: That we forget this.

That we let ourselves get carried away by the lust for victory. That we forget that just because these kids wear uniforms, it doesn’t mean they’re miniature Major Leaguers. That we gauge determine our sense of self-worth based on how our kids play on the field. This imposes an unfair burden on these children. It’s also a selfish thing for a parent to do: Furthering their own self-esteem at the expense of their own children. I can see signs that this is happening in our league already.

It takes courage on all of our parts not to get swept up in the passions of the game. We have to remember in Little League we are part of something more valuable. We’re here to mold the next generation of Americans using the life lessons that come from playing sports. Winning and losing aren’t nearly as important as guiding boys and girls to become men and women of character. I pray that everyone remembers this as we get into the season.