DEAR ATHLETIC SUPPORT: We were at a travel baseball tournament this past weekend, and something happened that flat-out floored me: The other team had individualized “walk-up” music.
Now, if you’ve been to MLB games, or even college or high school games, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Each player has a specific song that plays over the loudspeaker when he comes up to bat. It’s kind of like boxers or wrestlers having certain music played when they enter the ring.
But this felt different. It felt wrong. I mean, these were 8-year-old boys. I can’t describe why, exactly, I felt this way. Maybe it was because of the boys’ age? Like, we shouldn’t have to make baseball into a dance party in order for kids to enjoy it. It should just be fun.
It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. I know that. I also wasn’t very fond of the music selection. Some of the boys had hip-hop songs that, although they’d been censored, I still didn’t think were appropriate, given the setting. Long story short, what do you think about “walk-up” music in youth league baseball? —This Dad Don’t Dance.
DEAR DANCE DAD: Straight up, your question reminds me of an old man shaking his fist at the sky. What’s the man shaking his fist at? What’s got him so upset?
I don’t know. Just like I don’t know why you care if kids are dancing on their way to the batter’s box.
The secret to youth sports — the overarching goal, really — is to make sure the kids are having fun. And it sounds to me like these boys were having a blast.
As far as the inappropriate music, I can’t speak to that because I wasn’t there to hear the specific songs. I will say, though, that I hope you’re not lumping all hip-hop music into the inappropriate category. That’s not cool, man.
DEAR ATHLETIC SUPPORT: I just wanted to write in and let you know everything was good. My son is 6. He plays baseball, soccer and golf. I coach him in every sport, and we have a real good time. We’ve yet to have any parent drama with any of his teams. It’s just a whole bunch of fun.
Most of the people who write in seem to have a complaint, but I just wanted to let folks know there are still good youth leagues out there. There are still good parents and coaches and kids. Thanks. — A Cut Above.
DEAR CUT: Thanks for sending that along. Now, more than ever, we need to shed a light on the good, especially when it comes to kids.
DEAR ATHLETIC SUPPORT: I have two kids, a daughter and a son. My daughter is in high school; my son is in junior high. Both of them are athletes, and our calendars are already loaded to the brim with athletic events this summer. Luckily, our state does have what they call “dead weeks.” Essentially, these are two weeks in the summer where the coaches can’t schedule any tournaments or practices.
This is great in theory, but in the real world, it just doesn’t work. Two weeks simply isn’t enough time for us to do all the things we want to do over the summer.
To make matters worse, we always go on a big beach trip with my husband’s extended family. This year, I’ve had quite the time trying to get all his parents (and brothers/ sisters) to agree to fit our trip in that two-week window.
It all just seems like too much. Why do we have to make high school (and junior high!) athletics into such a time commitment? I know everyone wants to win, but I don’t think it should come at such a cost.
What, if any, repercussions would my kids face from their coach if we just decided to skip out on a few of these summer events?
— Dead Weeks (Yeah, Right)
DEAR DEAD WEEKS: Honestly, it depends on the talent level of your kids. I’ve said this in previous columns, but it bears repeating here: If your kids are some of the better athletes on their respective teams — if they’re starters — then missing a few summer practices probably won’t matter one way or the other. They’ll still be starters when you get back from the beach, and life will go on. If they’re on the border, though, things might be different. Coaches do use attendance as a gauge when it comes to choosing one equally talented player over another in regard to playing time. With all that said, summer workouts/ practices/tournaments are a great way to teach commitment. No, it’s not fun to spend your whole summer jostling back and forth between events, but your kids’ athletic careers won’t last forever, either. If you discuss any of this with your children, I’d urge you to keep that last thought front and center. You don’t want to send the wrong message and have them thinking they can skip out on practices and still be a good teammate.
In the end, attendance is up to the parents/players, and playing time is up to the coaches. Good luck!
DEAR ATHLETIC SUPPORT: My daughter’s basketball coach left for a new job a couple of months back, and our new coach just got here last week. I have nothing against this woman. My daughter doesn’t either, but she has taken this change really hard.
My daughter has been with the same coach throughout her whole career. I want her to give this coach a chance, but I’m also a little leery myself.
How can I make this transition as smooth as possible for my daughter? — Mrs. Leery
DEAR LEERY: You can watch your mouth.
Parents influence their children more than we know. And, yes, this even applies to teenaged offspring.
Whether you realize it or not, your words and opinions greatly impact your daughter’s viewpoints. Granted, she might not admit this, but she is listening. She’s also watching how you react to this coaching change.
If you treat it as no big deal, or maybe even spin it as a positive for the basketball program, then your daughter will, too.