Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Kids

How hockey goons get started

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Believe me, if the player’s mom wasn’t there, this fight would have been EPIC! I presume Dad, and copious viewings of, taught the kid how to circle the skater, then drop the gloves, like a goon four times his age (and size).

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(Hat tip: Puck Daddy.)

Written by rkcookjr

July 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm

'Sandlot Day,' or how adults organizing unorganized sports can't see irony

with 4 comments

There’s something pathetic about the idea of “Sandlot Day 2010,” pushed by the SUNY Youth Sports Institute as a chance “to give young ballplayers in organized leagues the gift of pickup baseball that their coaches and parents experienced.”

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There was a “Sandlot 3?” I didn’t even know there was a “Sandlot 2.”

What’s pathetic is not that it takes an organized effort to create unorganized play, although that’s pretty bad. What’s pathetic is the false nostalgia being pushed by this idea — that the glory days of youth sports were when kids did everything themselves while adults stayed inside, smoked, played bridge and fucked the neighbor’s spouse. Well, the SUNY Youth Sports Institute (and by extension, the New York Times, which wrote a kind piece about Sandlot Day) didn’t exactly push that last clause as part of its gauzy look at days gone by.

As a member of a generation in which, while we had organized sport, I played a lot of pickup games around the neighborhood, too, presumably I should be totally on board with the idea of “Sandlot Day.” After all, who can be against:

From this one day they’ll get personal memories that last a lifetime, a sense of ownership of the game, an ability to organize themselves, and so much more.

Most of our children’s playtime is organized. When a sport can offer its players a gift like Sandlot Day, it tells the players you trust them in control of the game, and it ultimately increases their passion for the game.

As coaches, you know this day is about something bigger than baseball. At first, the value of Sandlot Day may not be clear to parents. After all, they have come to expect organized games with uniforms, umpires, coaches instructing and parents cheering. But you know that to keep kids playing baseball longer they need a passion for the game.

A large part of the passion for baseball can be found in the historic roots of what occurs when playing in small games in the sandlot, playground, or backyard. Through Sandlot Day, baseball has a great opportunity give just one day back to the origins of the game.

Yes, who can be against this? [Points thumbs toward self] This guy!

The first problem is that adults are organizing this. Sandlot Day is not kids truly organizing sports on their own, picking the date, time, place and rosters. It’s organized leagues providing specific places and times, with players pre-supplied. The idea is coming from adults, not children.

This presupposes that the problem is children are incapable of organizing their own play, their abilities atrophied by years of organized sport. Actually, that’s not the case. I bet these same kids can find ways to organize video-game playing with friends, how they all interact at a school dance, or, at some point in their life, a game of tag at recess. The idea also presupposes that kids pine for the ability to organize games on their own, when in most cases, at least in my experience, they’re perfectly happy with an organized league, especially if they get a uniform out of it.

The other major problem is the whole idea that intrinsically kid-organized play is always better than adult-organized play. No doubt, adult-organized play has, shall we say, its flaws. But here are things you get in kid-organized play that aren’t so pleasant, and a few speak to how dickish children can get:

— Not having enough kids to play.

— “You’re too young! Get out of here!”

— Endless fights over the rules.

— Endless fights over calls.

— “I’m taking my ball and going home!”

— “If you score from second, I’m gonna knife you.” (This happened to me in eighth grade. I scored, and avoided the knife.)

— Bigger kids who steal your stuff.

— Game called on account of dinner time.

— “I’m the quarterback, because I’m always the quarterback.”

— Game called on account of the ball going into the crochety neighbor’s yard.

— Game called on account of smashed window.

— Game called on account of teammate getting hit by a car while chasing a ball.

— Getting picked last.

— Not getting picked at all.

I would recommend that to make a real Sandlot Day, the adult organizers throw in some of those traits into the official unorganized day. That way, when the kids come back to organized sports, the screaming parents and asshole coaches don’t seem so bad anymore.

Written by rkcookjr

March 29, 2010 at 12:23 am

Hiring a private coach for your child athlete: not as bad an idea as you'd think

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Here is a topic that came courtesy of one of my fans. Well, Facebook fans on my Your Kid’s Not Going Pro Facebook fan site. (I’m working on being as shameless as ESPN in plugging myself across multiple platforms. So let me amend: A topic for Your Kid’s Not Going Pro was sent to the Your Kid’s Not Going Pro Facebook fan site by a Your Kid’s Not Going Pro fan, Your Kid’s Not Going Pro has learned.)

The topic: hiring a private coach for your young athlete. I’ll paraphrase his comments to protect the innocent and/or guilty. The specific subject here is the writer’s niece, who is involved in soccer, band and other activities, but is showing particular promise as a long-distance runner.

My sisters and I all ran through high school, so it’s not surprising my sister’s 13-year-old daughter has taken to running as well. She won a state junior championship. It’s safe to say she has a future in running as long as she doesn’t burn out, get hurt, or discover boys and booze.

So my sister has hired a running coach for three figures a month (not sure how much exactly). He’s one of the parents of a runner who’s beaten my niece a couple of times, and apparently has a decent track record coaching young runners (his daughter included). My niece seems to be on board with it, but I can’t help thinking this is going to grind her down. At her age I personally think she should be doing unstructured training when and how she wants, but the coach is giving her a week’s worth of workouts at a time. Furthermore, I don’t know if this guy’s training philosophy falls in line with the coach at the high school she’ll attend, and though my niece is damned smart I’m not sure she’ll know which messages to take to heart and which to discard.

More than even winning a state championship or getting a scholarship, I want my niece to be running when she’s my age, health permitting, and I feel like that’s what her parents want, too. I really wish there was a subtle way to tell them to back off and let their daughter be a 13-year-old for a while.

And here was my response on Facebook (Your Kid’s Not Going Pro personally responds to your notes on the Your Kid’s Not Going Pro Facebook fan page, reports Your Kid’s Not Going Pro.)

It seems like if your kid shows any ability, the pressure is on for a private coach. My 10-year-old daughter has been an all-star all three years in softball, and she’s pitched all three years, though in a lesser role when she moved up last summer. That’s because the team had two absolute flamethrowers who had been on a travel team and got a lot of private instruction. So after their last game, the coach who’s going to be managing her next year says that my daughter will be pitching a lot more (the flamethrowers are moving up), and he suggested the name of a private pitching coach.

The thing is, I don’t think he meant anything by it. He knows, as a parent volunteer, he doesn’t have the expertise to teach pitching, and he also knows that in the course of practice my daughter isn’t going to learn how to be a flamethrower (she can get it over the plate consistently, but the pitchers are hittable — a big problem at this level because you never quite know what your fielders will do).

A lot of how everything works seems to depend on the quality of coach and whether the child is on board. In a way, your niece might be better off with a coach providing structured workouts — not just in keeping up running, but knowing how much to run when. If your niece is really OK with this — excited about it — then there’s probably no harm done. But if the coach wants her to run an inordinate amount and isn’t cognizant of any pain or harm being done, and your niece isn’t terribly interested, then there’s a problem. If nothing else, you’re just wasting money. (The issue of the philosophy of the high school coach is a small one, to me. I ran cross country and track, and at a certain point running is running. All the high school coach wants at the start is someone who’s enthusiastic and hard-working, and he or she can work out any coaching conflicts from there.)

If I were you (and here comes my unsolicited advice), I would keep quiet unless your niece is telling you on the sly she hates this or seems to be breaking down in some way. It is entirely possible that if the coach is decent, she’ll learn some good long-term habits that will serve her well when she’s just running for pleasure.

Upon further review, there were a few things I left out in my original response.

One is that I indeed will be hiring a private pitching coach for my 10-year-old daughter. It won’t be an intense, one-on-one, seven-days-a-week kind of thing. My feeling is this. My daughter is planning on playing softball again in the spring, and she’s going to be put on the mound day after day. It behooves me to allow her a little instruction so, if nothing else, she feels more confident and comfortable, though if I might brag that’s never been a problem. (Me watching her pitch — now I need a little instruction so I feel less uncomfortable. If you want a hilarious show, watch parents, particularly dads, while their kids pitch.)

I’m not going to hook up my 10-year-old with a pitching coach with an eye toward that elusive softball scholarship. I don’t know how much longer she plans on playing softball, for one thing. She turned down playing fall ball this year, and she also has refused to try out for travel ball. (For that, I am eternally grateful.) All I — and she — are looking for is a few days’ instruction so she’s ready for the task assigned.

How would this apply to my reader’s niece? As long as she, her parents and her coach are all in agreement over very reasonable goals that keep her true best interests at heart, there should be no trouble.

The other thing I didn’t mention in my original response was one major caution for a private coach: that he’s a pervert. If you were to send Your Kid’s Not Going Pro a note on the Your Kid’s Not Going Pro Facebook fan page (eat your heart out, ESPN), I would say that if your private coaching includes one-on-one time, as a parent you might want to make sure that’s at least two-on-one, Your Kid’s Not Going Pro has learned.


Not what you’re looking for in a coach/player relationship.

Written by rkcookjr

December 10, 2009 at 1:35 am

Larry King's 10-year-old son gets radio sports gig

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Will he wear suspenders and say, “Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hello!” in a squeaky voice?

From TMZ:

Getting a job in radio is child’s play to Larry King’s 10-year-old son — because the kid just landed a phat TV job hosting a sports show on FOX SportsNet.

Larry tells TMZ Chance King recently penned a deal to host an upcoming TV show called “Kid Pitch” — which revolves around youngsters shooting the breeze about all things baseball … plus interviews with Major League Baseball players.

The show is set to start filming in February of next year — and due to Chance’s school schedule, we’re told he’ll have to hightail it to the set after his school day wraps.

We’re also told Larry’s 9-year-old son Cannon will make occasional appearances on the program — which will be directed by “Best Damn Sports Show Period” alum Tom Arnold.

Luke Russert is calling NBC executives to find out why he had to wait until after puberty to get hired. Parents, your kid is apparently not going pro as a broadcaster, either, unless you find a way to procreate with Bob Costas.

That said, I hope “Kid Pitch” makes the move to television. There hasn’t been a good kids-and-baseball show since “The Baseball Bunch” went off the air in the 1980s. All Chance King needs is the Famous Chicken as a sidekick and a guest appearance by Tom Seaver, and it’s ratings gold!

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Written by rkcookjr

November 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm