By Cathy Thurber
My daughter was playing softball the other day when I suddenly realized that all the girls just seemed SO good. I remember being a very good softball player, but these girls probably would have whipped my butt on the field. It was then that I heard one of the mothers talking about all the extra pitching and hitting lessons her daughter was taking, plus the “fall ball” that she played. All I could think was, when did this become so all-consuming – this need for your child to be the best at everything they do?
I loved playing softball during the summers. And it wasn’t fast pitch, just regular slow pitch softball (us old people didn’t have fast pitch until we hit college, unlike the southern and western U.S.). But, I couldn’t wait for summer, just so I could get on a team and play. I enjoyed the competition. I don’t ever remember any of the other girls having individual lessons on how to hit, field or pitch the ball. We all tried our best and those that loved it got better each year.
I’m not sure when it became so all-important to make sure your child was the best at what they did. It must have been the parents who are half a generation older than me. Now it’s insane! To truly compete – even in recreation league ball – you need to be playing at least two seasons during the year. And if you want to pitch? Forget about it, unless you’re getting lessons on the side. And it’s not just softball – every sport imaginable now has become so competitive by the time the kids are 9 or 10. So, parents spend their time and money trying for their child to be better than the next person. Do they think they’re going to be the next Jennie Finch or LeBron James? It’s certainly not a guarantee. Or, maybe they feel sports are the best chance for their child to get a college scholarship. Definitely not a guarantee there, either.
My daughter is happy trying her hardest and being the best she can be. She doesn’t even try to compete with the girls that get all the extra time put in. Honestly, there’s no point. She enjoys playing the game because it’s something she’s done every summer, not because she feels the need to be the best girl on the field or entertains the thought that she’ll go to college and play. Sometimes, I think she enjoys playing more than the girls who are putting in all the extra time. And I’m perfectly ok with that. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.