Man, I Don't Miss This Sh*t



It's been a long time since I've been embroiled in the everyday drama that goes with having kids in organized sports but yesterday I saw an article that brought me right back.

In case you didn't hear, there was a Texas Little League game where a volunteer coach (who is also a real-life police officer by the way) allegedly shoved and hit kids on the opposing team after his team lost. For fucks sake, they're nine-year-old kids and this dude can't control his shit and show good sportsmanship for two whole minutes??

No, of course not. 

And why am I surprised?? I've spent way too many hours of my life on the sidelines at baseball games watching grown-ass men lose their shit on the children on the field. In fact, yesterday's story reminded me of a time a many years ago of a volunteer/dad coach on the opposing team.

Gomer loves baseball. Always has. But he's not a terrific player and we weren't willing to invest a lot of time or money into making him a terrific player. Instead, every summer I signed him up for rec ball. And because I didn't have any ins with the "good" teams, my son always ended up where ever they could find a spot for him. I never kept track, but I would bet money his various teams combined lost more games than they ever won. He always had nice volunteer dad coaches who emphasized having fun while learning a few skills. (I would not have allowed him to stay on a team any other way.)  

One day Gomer's team found themselves playing against the number one team in the league. Remember, though, this was rec ball, so that only meant that the number one team still sucked pretty bad. They still missed ground balls that rolled between their legs, they still swung their bats like maniacs and struck out, they still got tagged out on first. They just made mistakes a little less than everyone else.

But that night the stars aligned and all the training Gomer's coaches had been trying to impress upon these young boys kicked in and suddenly they were the ones making fewer mistakes. Our boys were ecstatic to see the score creep up in their favor. Their coaches were thrilled that the boys were having fun (sometimes it's hard to keep morale high when you've lost 5 games in a row). And their parents could stop saying, "That's okay, Billy. You tried your best. You'll get it next time!" and finally had something to cheer about.

We were about three-quarters of the way through the game when the coach on the opposing team called a time-out. He'd been slowly losing his shit on the sidelines and the time-out came as no surprise to anyone. Our boys came into their dugout and huddled up, refueling on Gatorade and Goldfish. The other parents rushed to congratulate the boys and encourage them to keep going. 

I didn't do that because:

1. Even at that tender age, Gomer was already horribly embarrassed by me and didn't like it when I reminded anyone we shared DNA 

and 

2. I'm a nosy bitch. 

I could tell from the body language, the other coach was Hulking out and I wanted to be a witness. He had all his boys on the pitcher's mound and he began to berate them individually. 

"Carson, are you sleeping on first? Two of the slowest runners I've ever seen got by you!"

"Bennet, where's your head? Because it's not in this game!"

"Angus, why are you afraid of the ball? You're supposed to catch it, man!"

And then, he began yelling. "What is going on out here?" he screamed. "They're the worst team in the league and you're losing to them?! What are you doing??" His voice cracked with emotion and I could see his face turning red. "You're blowing it! You're the number one team in the league and you're losing to these..." his voice trailed off.

I grabbed the fence and leaned as close as I could to the field. "Say it," I whispered. "Say something mean about my kid and I will fucking end you."

The second (obviously, smarter) coach had arrived on the mound by then and stopped the stupid coach before he could say any more. "All right," the smart coach said. "Let's get it together. Everyone's upset. We never thought we'd be in this position, but here we are. You got this, boys. There's still a chance to win. You're losing because of easy mistakes. Just relax and the mistakes will stop."

The dumb coach couldn't contain himself anymore. He screamed at his team. "This is your game to lose! This team sucks! You should be ashamed of yourselves for losing to them!"

I looked over at the dugout and saw my son and his teammates had stopped gorging themselves on Goldfish. Their mouths hung open and their faces looked defeated. Even our coaches looked shocked. I could see the light go out in everyone's eyes in that dugout. That fucker had killed their spirit with his hateful words. 

"That's it," I grumbled. I ran over to my son and his teammates. "Don't listen to that a--" (a smart mom put her hand on my shoulder) "Um, arrogant jerkwad! You will win this game tonight and when you do I will buy everyone ice cream. Two scoops each if you can make that coach cry!"

The boys cheered which was silly because even when they lost they got ice cream. But it was the principle. We all knew that ice cream would taste so much sweeter with a victory. 

There were only a few more innings left to play and the boys played their best. I would like to tie this story up with a bow and say we won the game, but that didn't happen. The other team stopped making so many mistakes, came back, and beat us handily. All while I did my best to fuck with the arrogant jerkwad coach. 

I followed him around all night and just kept up a steady stream of whispered insults hurled in his general direction. (I couldn't yell. There were children -- and cellphone cameras -- present.) I'd stand at the fence directly behind him and say stupid stuff like, "Your hair looks dumb" and "Nice fucking shoes" and "Everyone hates you" and "You practically cried over a Little League game, you fucking loser."    

I wish I had said something louder to him, though. But the dude had an anger problem and was the size of a small house. I wasn't in the mood (nor do I have good enough insurance) to get decked in the nose. I should have been louder. I didn't because Gomer would have literally died on the spot. But I could have done a better job explaining to Gomer why someone needed to speak up. No one said a word to this man. No one stood up to him. Someone needed to tell this asshole to take several seats and think about how he was treating a group of young kids playing rec ball.

Instead, over ice cream that night we talked about how when Gomer's team lost they immediately lined up to shake hands with the winning team and how this coach gleefully refused to come onto the field to shake hands with anyone. I can't stand up to every dickhead dude in my son's life but I can hopefully teach him how to be a better man.    

This experience did help me down the road, though, because a couple years later, Adolpha had a basketball coach that called me two days before the season started and kicked her off the team because she didn't smile at him. That's a whole other story and if you want to hear that one, let me know! 


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1 comment:

Tory G said...

Please share the Adolpha basketball story!

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