Monday, January 23, 2006

Can I say this here?

It is truly a shame the way we treat our high school athletes. It is easier this time of year to hear how badly we treat them. Basketball courts are much smaller than football fields.

For example, let a child (can we all agree that they are all children?) make a mistake, and too often a handful of alleged adults come unglued. Some parents feel free to berate their children right there on the court, in front of God and everybody.

I take some small comfort in young people having told me they can’t hear everything yelled from the stands. I hope they can’t distinguish any of it and only hear the noise. Then they can tell themselves it is people cheering.

Sure; if an athlete makes a mistake, or obviously needs an attitude adjustment, he or she ought to know about it. I think that’s why they have coaches.

Take basic basketball, for example. If a child travels, makes an errant pass, or, God forbid, misses a shot, the player knows he or she did something wrong. Do we really think they need to be reminded by us?

I remember taking a youth group to Sea World once. I was amazed to learn that all the training they do of the animals at Sea World is done by positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when the correct or desired behavior is praised or rewarded and incorrect or undesired behavior is ignored or not rewarded.

I’d like to think our children deserve as much.


At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Rev. Phatty said...

I am much more worried about the alignment of priorities when these same children get into band, sports, and other school activities. The directors and coaches have them overworking and dedicating most all of their out-of-school time to mandatory practices. They might as well not even think about other activities such as church (other than Sunday morning) or even the time honored tradition of being at home with your family. What ever happened to just being in the backyard with your imagination and maybe a shovel or a football. Oh yes, I suppose we should also ask the parents where they are in all of this too.

Let's look at our overworked adults in our society and see what we are doing to reinforce this lifestyle with our children.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Nate said...

When I was in college I was a referee for 6th grade basketball at some neighborhood elementary schools. More than a few times I had to tell the coaches and parents to lay off the children and to be more sensitive. You would think that the children just made the worst mistake of their lives when they missed a shot.

Be sensitive, do not be mean, and love will always win.

At 4:22 AM, Blogger John said...

I've heard about this phenomenon, but have never seen it. Of course, I also don't attend high school athletic events. Is it real, in your experience?

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Steve Heyduck said...

It is very real. Far too real. I even heard one mom yell at her basketball-playing daughter during the game, "You don't deserve to win!"

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Mark Winter said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Mark Winter said...

Hey, Steve,

Both of my boys play basketball and this is what I've witnessed over the years:

1. A mom who constantly yelled at referees, "You SUCK!"
2. A father and ref getting into a courtside shoving match.
3. Police called to break up parking-lot scuffles between players, fathers, etc.
4. A coach on the verge of an aneurysm as he screamed at his players. When a zebra called a tech on him, I whipped out my cellphone to call 9-1-1 just in case he keeled over (that happened just two nights ago).

Just goes to show that the church has a ripe harvest field.....


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