FEATURE: "Dad, it doesn't matter" (Part 1)
Clearly not yet kicking back in holiday mode after the recent release of his publication sub-titled “Become the ultimate sports parent”, Castle Hill Knights Baseball Club President and Alumni contributor Mark Maguire has treated us to his latest offering on the crucial role of coaches and parents in the sporting and personal development of young people.
Team sport is just that – an enterprise in which members are equally invested in success or otherwise of the group, and in which acknowledgment of effort and recognition of achievement should be strategically and appropriately accorded.
We thank Mark Maguire for his contribution to Australian Baseball Alumni and we recommend his publication “Dad, it doesn’t help” to our members and supporters. AMAZON link.
Dad! It Doesn’t Matter!
The fight for acknowledgement and recognition.
It’s nice to be acknowledged. It feels good to be recognised.
On the contrary it is distressing to feel forgotten, and even more so if you think your child has been over looked. The need for acknowledgment and recognition is a very real need. To know you’ve contributed something of value and then not be acknowledged for it leaves us disgruntled and dismayed. I can still hear my own despairing voice in my head from times gone past: I’m feeling pretty unappreciated, right now.
Recently, I spoke to a father about his ten-year-old son and how he was doing at his soccer matches. The father told me the son was doing well and enjoyed playing in the team he’s in. He told me about the game the week prior and how his son scored two goals and set up two more in the teams four-zero win. The father was very proud of his son’s achievements that week but he was extremely agitated about something else. His son didn’t receive any 3-2-1 points from the coach as an acknowledgement for his contribution to the win.
I listened to the father as he explained in detail the son’s performance in that game and how he deserved the highest award of three points but his kid didn’t even get one point. The father was baffled with the whole point scoring system and his irritation was building up that he had to let the coach know of his dismay.
The father told me the coach said to all the players after the game that he wants all of them to know that playing in defence or in other less prominent positions is just as important as those that score the goals. The father, however, couldn’t see the fairness in that and the message it was sending when his kid was the main star of the game and the results proved that fact. The father had to say something to the coach; he couldn’t hold it in anymore…
“Please tell me you didn’t text, email, or call the coach,” I asked.
“No, I didn’t,” he sheepishly responded, “but I started many times and I still want to press send.”
“You’re telling me the truth, you didn’t send anything?”
“I’m ready to, but I’m holding back.”
“Have you spoken about this with any other parent in the team?”
“Only you, right now,” he said, “I told my wife and she just said I’m crazy and I need to calm down.”
“But you’re not calm yet?”
“I can’t let it go. It makes a mockery of the 3-2-1 system; and every other parent could see my son deserved the points.”
“So, the coach has no idea what you’re thinking?” I had to ask again—just in case.
The father reiterated with me what the coach was looking for and why he allocates the points to different positions. He started to see reason in what the coach was trying to do. I doubled checked with the father that he knew his son was only ten-years-old and all he may get at the end of the season was a piece of plastic that either will be quickly forgotten, broken or lost—at best gathering dust and eventually tossed.
Plus, now here’s the kicker, the son couldn’t care less about receiving any 3-2-1 points. He just enjoyed playing with his mates.
The father came to his senses and realised, Dad, It doesn’t matter! I told him that if he’d said or written anything to the coach it probably would be a divide between him and the coach for the rest of the season; that there would be no escaping that—and did he want that all for the sake of some points.
I further asked him if his son was one of the better players in the team. He said he was. And if I were to ask other parents in the team, would they rate your son as one of the main players. He humbly said yes. Therefore, you know he’s important to the team, and the coach and the parents know he’s important to the team, and your son loves playing with his mates and couldn’t care less about earning 3-2-1, is there really any problem here?
His next words were full of surrender and humility: I’m glad we spoke before I blew it big time.
(So what do you do if you’ve blown it and made that call or sent that email? Because I know a lot of people who have, whether it be about 3-2-1 or any other matter relating to their child playing in a team: I’ll answer that in the next blog, Dad! Who ya going to call!)
Meanwhile, back to the action…
After I hung up on this troubled (but now freed Dad), I spoke about the whole 3-2-1-recognition thing to a former rugby coach. He said coaches are often troubled in allocating a best and fairest each week and they’re looking for reasons and other things happening in the game that are often not noticed by the parents whom primarily have their eyes fixed on their own child.
He also said, it’s imperative for the coach to not only acknowledges the importance of all the positions in a team but to reward the important stuff that those positions bring to the game.
A good coach (even an average to poor coach) will recognise and acknowledge quality players in their team. Moreover, they’ll recognise the little things a young athlete does that most won’t see, for example: he listened more attentively this week; or she put into practice what she learnt at training; or he picked himself up quickly after making a mistake instead of sulking about it; or she encouraged her teammates consistently keeping everyone’s spirits high. These are little things that most don’t see.
It’s important for us to see the little things that matter in our children and acknowledge those attributes. This is what builds a healthy character in them. I’m not talking about being super-encouraging or over-praising. (More about that in a previous blog, Dad! I need Grit! Part 2)
But for a child to know that their parent recognises what’s important, this helps build them into strong, secure, and dare I say, successful human beings. Fight for the acknowledgment that matters. There’ll be many good things we see in our kids and what they do that we hope everyone recognises. Unfortunately they don’t.
One day, however, if your child is good enough at the sport they’ve chosen, they’ll receive more acknowledgement and recognition than they’ll know what to do with.
Images: Castle Hill Knights