Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
Ex-Chicago White Sox pitcher/rock god Jack McDowell knows why his ex-teammate, current Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, is seething with frustration at players who don’t seem to care too much about losing. One part of Guillen’s trouble with getting players to give a shit is a lack of clubhouse bonding because that goddamn media would blow everything said and done out of proportion.
Speaking of someone in the media blowing things out of proportion, another problem McDowell, a Tribune Co. blogger, finds with major-leaguers these days is that they aren’t competitive enough. You know why? Fuckin’ everybody-gets-a-trophy leagues!
It is politically incorrect to actually WANT to win growing up and playing youth sports. If a kid cries after a loss he is seen as a “bad sport” or overcompetitive. He’ll need some sort of medication to fix that, no doubt.
Oh yeah, and everybody gets a trophy, not just the winners. Let’s celebrate mediocrity instead of success and excellence because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Hell my kids didn’t even receive grades until the 7th grade! What the hell does “meets expectations” mean anyway? Who’s expectations, the system or mine? But again, we don’t want to start listing the kids in order of their achievement levels. That will surely scar them for life.
Look at the pain in those children’s faces. Will they ever recover?
Scar them for life? Well, at least, unlike Athens State (Ala.) University psychology professor Mark Durm, McDowall didn’t posit that everybody-gets-a-trophy-leagues are the cause of school killing sprees.
Forget for a moment that going off on this George Carlin-style tangent on the pussification of youth sports is a bit odd, considering many of the Chicago White Sox regulars are well into their 30s, not that much younger than the 43-year-old McDowell.
The mistaken assumption McDowell makes — and he’s hardly alone in this — is that the reason for no-score, everybody-gets-a-trophy leagues is to protect the tender children. The actual reason for no-score, everybody-gets-a-trophy leagues is to protect the tender adults.
The kids don’t need to be taught how to compete — ever tried to take a toy away from a 2-year-old? Even if the kids I have coached weren’t the type to cry if the game is lost, they always knew the score, even if the score wasn’t kept. When I coached my oldest son in second-grade, no-score basketball, the kids were the ones filling me in on who was winning, and by how much. All I know is, the parents and others in the crowd were at their quietest when the score was not being kept. They didn’t complain about playing time, or their kids’ pro career. They focused, and I could focus, on player development.
That brings me to other tender adults protected by everybody-gets-a-trophy. That would be the people running the leagues.
If you tell a 6-year-old he sucks and he’s hopeless, more than likely he’ll quit the sport. Perhaps that allows the child to find a more appropriate pursuit. But what it does for leagues is suck away years of entry and fundraising fees. It’s the economic interest of leagues to find as many spots for players as they can, and make sure there’s some carrot to keep kids coming back. Does a trophy do it? Probably not all by itself. However, it is a physical reminder to the children — and more importantly, to whomever is writing the check — that there is a reward for getting yelled at by some guy in a mustache and mesh cap all spring.
In seven years of youth sports parenting and coaching, I have never found that kids who were innately competitive found their personalities blunted by whether score was kept or hardware was handed out. I also have never found kids who were not innately competitive, at least in the sport in question, had their personalities changed by whether score was kept or hardware was handed out.
I don’t believe you can teach competitiveness. You can teach players to try their best for their own selfish purposes, or for the good of the team. You can show them that if they do certain things, they are more likely to win than if they don’t. (If I don’t spend a season, in any sports, telling kids to bend their knees, it will be the first.) I can appeal to their pride. What I cannot do is take a laid-back kid and turn him into the competitive nutcase that was Jack McDowell.
Anyway, I also find “competitiveness” to be overrated. People love players who are rah-rah, who slam things, who flip the finger to the Yankee Stadium crowd when the home fans are booing him. But I’ve had players who gnash their teeth and rend their garments, and often these players are difficult to deal with. They let anything that goes wrong drive them to distraction. (By the way, the uncompetitive White Sox are being dragged down in part because power hitter Carlos Quentin broke his hand slamming his bat after a strikeout last year, and then came back this year hitting horribly as he drove himself crazy trying to regain his form.)
I can take a player like that and try to teach him or her how to redirect competitiveness in a productive direction. Without medication. But if dad is riding the kid’s ass all the home about this or that, then my job is a lot harder.
Here is one statement McDowell made that I can agree with wholeheartedly.
So Ozzie Guillen is caught between that rock and that hard place. If he has to TEACH the kids coming in how to play with true heart and competitiveness, he’ll soon realize that is impossible. If that fire is not there, it never will be.
That can be the greatest frustration to a coach or manager, at any level, who is a fiery, competitive kind of guy. For that matter, it’s the frustration of anyone who manages people anywhere. If someone flat-out doesn’t care, you can’t make that person care.
By the way, McDowell started his piece saying that every “player from an era gone by fears becoming the ‘remember when’ guy. Black Jack, I think your fears have been realized.
I just hope that people have figured out that political correctness, celebrating mediocrity, and the whole movement of pshychology [sic] has virtually devastated an entire generation. Sure, some gamers snuck through the cracks and some parents taught these unacceptable values along the way. It’s in my hands now, along with others in my same boat. Teach your kids old school values. Hard work=excellence=prize. Then Ozzie won’t have to worry if he’s still managing in another 15 years.
McDowell, stretching his musical chops by starring as Harry McAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie.”