TITLE: Never Satisfied?
By Karen O'Leary
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It was the bottom of the eighth with two out, Jason Milner stepped into the batters box, praying he would get a chance to redeem himself. He had been thrown out at home plate, trying to stretch a sure triple into a run in the fifth. He glanced over his shoulder when the pitcher stepped off the mound. His dad, the coach, still had a scowl on his face.
“Play ball,” the umpire yelled. The first pitch was low and outside. “Ball one.”
The second hummed down the middle of the plate. Crack! The ball sailed over the left fielder’s head. Jason ran full bore. The outfielder had the ball so he stopped at third, hoping his dad would be satisfied.
Eric Sanstrom, their leading home run hitter was up next. He popped it up to shallow right. “Miss it,” Jason whispered. The first baseman hauled it in, ending the inning.
“Should have come home,” Coach Milner mumbled as his son retrieved his glove.
“I quit,” Jason snapped. “No matter what I do it’s never good enough.” He took off running.
Parents often embarrass their children with unrealistic demands. They are quick to criticize and never seem satisfied. It is not uncommon to see parents screaming at sports officials or attempting to coach their kids from the stands. Their children look to them with pleading eyes or attempt to ignore the tirades, hoping they will stop. Unfortunately, they rarely do.
My heart goes out to the athletes whose parents are reprimanded by the officials for their conduct. Worse yet, when their transgressions are announced over the public address system. Through it all, these children are expected to chart new records or maintain stellar performances.
Then, there are the totally intense parents, recording race times, missed shots, points scored,… Instead of enjoying the event, they are bent on getting the details as if statistics will somehow turn their children into Olympic stars. They can be seen reviewing the stats with their children on the way out the door.
Sports are meant to be enjoyed. My daughter’s fifth grade basketball team taught the parents, lucky enough to watch, the magic of playing a game. They cheered each other on, yelled “good job” even when the shot was only close, and ran up and down the court with smiles on their faces. They rarely were aware of the score. They were part of a group, comrades that grew to be friends. God sometimes chooses ordinary events to teach life lessons.
Disappointments are a part of life. Sports can teach children how to handle adversity in a positive manner, seeking self-improvement without tearing others down.
The trick for parents is to support change without shattering self-esteem. Unconditional love and acceptance provide a sold foundation for growth, as taught by Christ Himself.
The air at the state swim meet was electric with anticipation as the number one and two seeded athletes took their starting positions on blocks in side by side lanes for the fifty yard free-style. Given their season’s best times, the number one seeded swimmer was highly favored to win, maybe even set a new state record. Both got off to fast starts, swimming neck and neck the entire way. The number two seeded athlete pulled ahead just before their hands touched the wall to finish a fraction of a second ahead of her rival. Her teammates and supporters erupted in celebration. The expected winner looked defeated, but only for a moment. Still in the water, she waded over to the new state champ and gave her a congratulatory hug. Tears welled up in my eyes. What an inspiration!
For some winning Friday night’s football game is almost a life and death matter. Jobs are on the line and scholarships hang in the balance. Though some stress is healthy and can enhance performance, too much pressure causes things to unravel. Coaches yell at players and officials. Teammates argue and blame each other for botched up plays. Values and integrity are thrown away all in the name of victory. Is Satan rearing his ugly head?
Despite the challenges, sports can offer families an opportunity for quality time together. Positive parental support can promote athletes’ self-confidence and self-worth. Making an effort to attend children’s events speaks of caring, commitment, and love.
God provides each person with unique gifts. Focusing on attitude and teambuilding rather than individual accomplishments allows everyone who partakes to work toward a common goal. Sports are more than just winning and losing. They are about pulling each other up, cheering each other on, and building a bond that allows those who partake to hold their heads high even in defeat. To be the best we can be is all that God asks. In the end, it is enough.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.