I’ve spun many a yarn over the years and have done a pretty darn good job of sugar coating the bad parts. But even the best storytellers in the world don’t own enough fib to beat around the bush about organized youth sports.
Spin it any way you wish. There aren’t enough positives to outweigh the negatives of showing up at a soccer field — with your outfitted six-year-old — on a damp Saturday morning. But that’s exactly what I’ll be doing within the next few weeks.
As for the trophies for everyone? Shame on us! Learning how to lose is of vital importance.
Now, before you write me off as a disgruntled moaner, just hear me out. I’ve been there – on the sidelines and dugouts – with three children. I’ve shopped for an overpriced orange-hued adjustable baseball belt just an hour before the first pitch; oiled plenty of stiff gloves; and spent hours explaining to my child why the $300 neon green Viper Killer XS is not a good ‘investment’ for a first-year fast-pitch player. And those memories actually hold a special place for me.
But there are still plenty of youth sports-related memories that raise my blood pressure.
Agony of defeat? What defeat?
I managed as a child to end up on mediocre teams. Back then, we didn’t receive trophies for coming in third, which is why I have only three such mementos from my childhood. Admittedly, one was for a plant I grew, while another one was for winning the Pinewood Derby.
So, what the hell happened?
We’ve made some improvements over time on how to raise children, but this is one that my generation screwed up. We give awards for everything. The last place team receives the same trophy as the undefeated champions. In the mean time, we pretend that we aren’t even keeping score. To all of that, I say bullhockey!
Though the scoreboard might not be operational during the game, I’m fairly certain the cigarette-puffing mom sitting in her oversized chair along the first base line has made her son – and everyone else – very aware of how he was swinging too late. Furthermore, how many parents on the ride home look to the back seat and proclaim that their team ‘really won’ the game?
As for the trophies for everyone? Shame on us! Learning how to lose is of vital importance. Fact is, we compete in life — for attention, employment, a spouse, on the interstate highways … even in our neighborhoods, where we want our lawn to look better than the Jones’.
The folly of the V
V – as in vicarious. You know, the parents who truly believe and expect little 8-year-old Timmy to be the reincarnation of Sandy Koufax, Tony Dorsett or Pele. Funny thing is, most of these parents – the few who even played sports – never advanced beyond being the water boy. Yeah, those people exist on the sidelines of every field and in the stands behind every diamond. And they’re disgusting fools.
According to the NCAA, about 0.6 percent of all high school baseball players become pros later in life. Of the 1.1 million high school football players who will take the field later this year, about 250 will ever be drafted by a professional team. And basketball? Forget about it! Of the half-million on the high school hard court right now, about 45 will eventually be drafted as pros. (P.S. – Getting drafted means they still have to make the team.)
The real problem with these parents – other than they irritate the hell out of me with the ‘Joey’s Mom’ stamped on the back of their T-shirts – is what they are doing to their children. I’m all for expecting excellence from my offspring, but to put such pressure on a child is a crime. It’s a city soccer league, for crying out loud.
Sorry, Ma and Pa Kettle. Try encouraging your child to stay in school and take advanced courses. He still might be able to support you in a few years — which is what you really want, right? Whatever happens, hopefully he won’t turn out to be like you.
Come to think of it, there is one positive about organized youth sports — the pizza party to celebrate the end of the season.
Want to receive notifications of my Confessions in your email? Just click here. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. — Special thanks to Megan E. ‘What about Dad and Uncle Tom?’ Hawkins at The Underground Writer for editing this piece.
There are many recipes and techniques out there for Limoncello. The ingredients are pretty much the same in every cookbook — Lemon peels, vodka, sugar and water. Unfortunately, the maceration process is essentially skipped in most of those recipes. The Limoncello that takes several weeks to produce is going to develop much deeper flavors than the quick versions. You get only one chance with fresh in-season Meyer Lemons, so take your time. I’ll be worth it.
Meyer Lemon Limoncello
750 ml – Good quality vodka
Rind (no pith) from 10 Meyer Lemons (or standard lemons)
2½ cups – White sugar
3½ cups – Filtered (bottled) water
Step 1 – Carefully peel lemons. If you don’t have a peeler capable of removing the rind without the white pith, use a microplane.
Step 2 – Place lemon rind in a jar sufficiently large enough to hold listed ingredients. Pour vodka over rinds; close jar; and keep in a dark place (such as a cabinet, pantry, etc.) for about 4 weeks. This is known as maceration, or steeping.
Step 3 – In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure that the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When sugar/water reaches room temperature, add to vodka mixture. Taste for sweetness as you add the sugar/water. You might prefer the mixture to be a little less sweet than this recipe. Seal jar; allow mixture to sit for an additional week.
Step 4 – Strain mixture into bottle(s); seal and allow to sit for another week. Strain again, if desired.
Store in freezer.