For the Love of the Game
My oldest son started playing baseball with his friends and classmates six year ago when they all teamed up to play T-Ball. As the boys progressed from T-Ball, to machine pitch baseball, and then to kid-pitch baseball, several boys dropped baseball altogether, while others left for other, perhaps more competitive teams, but a core group of boys stayed together for the love of the game. As the number of boys playing shrunk though, my son and his friends have been faced with a dilemma: they no longer have enough players to field a team of their own. For the past three years, it has been a struggle finding enough boys to play or finding a team will to take my son and his friends as a group. This has been especially challenging as the boys move into the higher division because there are simply fewer teams to choose from.
I, along with the fathers of the remaining boys, knew that this year was going to be a challenge. We were down to five players and they all were moving from Midget C to Midget B baseball. We decided not to wait around this time and started looking for a new team at the end of last summer’s baseball season. Fortunately, we found a team that was willing to take all five of our boys. As spring sign up approached; however, things changed. Two of my son’s friends decided that they weren’t going to play baseball this summer, so we were down to just three players. My son was disappointed his two friends weren’t going to be playing, but he was excited for the upcoming season.
Then “tragedy” struck. I got a phone call from the new coach explaining that he didn’t have as many spots on the team as he thought. Although I had been in touch with him for several weeks, he decided that he was going to take my son’s two friends, but not my son, despite the fact that he had never met any of them or seen them play. The timing couldn’t have been worse as the league sign-ups were coming to a close and most, if not all, the teams were already full. This didn’t leave us with many options.
Needless to say, my son was crushed when I broke the news. He was disappointed that the coach “didn’t want him on his team,” but he was more upset that he couldn’t play with his friends anymore. He recognized the fact that these last three boys had stuck together through thick and thin and he thought it was unfair that someone else was going to break them apart. I couldn’t agree with him more. Life isn’t fair, but this is a hard lesson for a ten-year-old to learn.
As we explored our options, it quickly became evident that although my son enjoys playing baseball, he desperately wants to play with boys he knows, with his friends. As we looked around the league, we weren’t going to find a team with anyone he knew and my son was less than enthusiastic about this. We decided to look at other leagues were he might have some friends, but again, we struck out. Faced with the option of playing on a team where he knew no one, he decided to take the summer off and sit out of baseball this year.
Although I love baseball and spending time at the ballpark, I have to admit that I am relieved by his decision. Baseball is a huge time commitment, with several practices and games each week. This decision will definitely make my life less complicated and less hectic (especially because my son is still playing spring soccer). Although I am relieved, I am worried that my son will lose his love of baseball because of what happened this spring and part of me hoped he would still play “for the love of the game.” Despite the fact that my son says he will try baseball again next summer, I fear that his baseball career is over, not because he decided it was, but because someone else did.