relationships

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Blogging since May 2009

Monday, June 1, 2015

The "Loser Look"


I've probably written about this before, but it's something that I see often. Well, I see it when something is on the line when it comes to athletics. The "loser look" is that look you see in an athlete's face when they are scared. They are scared at a time when the game or a championship is in doubt. If you've been around sports long enough, when you see it, you'll know it.

You will hear parents or fans say things like "Why's he playing so scared?", "What's wrong with her?" or even profane comments. It's disappointing to see especially if it is your own child, but it is what they do with that look or after that look occurs that matters.

Do they quit? Do they let it pile on top of them to the point that they cannot do anything? Or do they compete through it? Do they move on to the next play even though the last one went to wrong?

I think it's important to remember that when competing especially for a championship that there will be adversity. When you accept that adversity is coming, when it happens you can handle it better. No game, none has ever gone smoothly. Sure some seem like they did, but even in a no-hitter, or a 22-1 win in baseball, someone struck out, someone made an error, someone ran the bases wrong; something has gone astray.

If you ever find a kid that doesn't have the loser look, what you have is a natural born winner. They are the player that says "come on boys, let's go do this", they're the one who everyone (even coaches) thrive off of. They don't come around naturally that often.

But I think they can be created. I think if you have a competitive child they do not have to be a leader, but they can be a competitive winner. And being a competitive winner is performing under pressure. So how do you create this in your child?

1. Talk to them after a game in which you see the "look", in them or someone else.
2. Tell them that no matter how nervous they are (I believe nerves are good because it shows you care and want to compete), they can play hard.
3. Next play. The quicker they can move on from a bad play, forget it, and move on, the tougher they will be.
4. If something isn't clicking, don't let that shut your entire game down. Find some way to contribute!
5. If all else fails for this game or this championship, sit on the bench and be the best cheerleader you can be!

It's creating and developing mental toughness.

Competing is fun, winning is fun. losing isn't fun and playing scared will take all of the fun out of athletics.

Sports often builds character, but it can expose it. It can expose that your character is good or bad.

I love sports, I believe that they prepare you so much for what life will throw at you. If you have the loser look, it can be disappointing, but you can get rid of it, and you can compete and win despite it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Face Masks for Baseball Pitchers



I've recently had a discussion with an anonymous person on what I believed was a relatively educated group on a message board. It's isn't your regular type message board, you have to pay to be a part of it.

I opened the discussion with the idea that the National Federation should pass a rule that high school baseball pitchers should be forced to wear masks, just as softball pitchers do. I am not sure what the rule for softball pitchers is, but it is more readily acceptable for girls to wear them than for boys. Call it testosterone, call it whatever you want, but it is perceived as a negative in boys sports...it is seen as weak.

That's why I believe a rule should be passed. Because people won't do it voluntarily, it isn't manly. And it's just plain stupid.

Someone made snarky comments that all athletes should be in bubble wrap, that the bases should be made of marshmallows, etc. because there is an inherent risk in all athletics. I could not agree more. But if helmets for hitters is ok, helmets on football players are ok,, and just about every other improvement in safety, why not face masks for baseball pitchers?

There isn't a good reason against them. The most common argument that someone used was that it "wussyifies" our nation, that we have gotten too soft. I wonder if this person (I don't know) ever pitched, I wonder if this person has ever seen a baseball traveling over 150 MPH hit a person in the head and heard the sound it makes?

It's not pretty and I would be willing that the first time it happened to his son or grandson, his beliefs would probably be different...maybe not.

But the excuse that it makes our country soft to attempt to minimize injury when doing an athletic event is not valid.

If so, I guess seat belts have done the same thing. Call me soft, but I'm putting it on every time I drive even if the odds of me being in a wreck are slim.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thank God I'm an Older Father



I do thank God that I did not have children until I was older. Sure, I don't have the energy to get out in the yard to play with them as much as I'd like to and I will be the old dad at graduation, but it is a blessing to be older. Especially for me.

I am more self-aware of what I am doing wrong when it comes to all aspects of raising them, but especially in sports. I get too much satisfaction and too depressed if they are not doing as well as I believe they should be; and I am aware of that. Twenty years ago, I would not have been.

I am as nutty as any parent, but I am hoping that being aware that is a huge step in the correct direction. I want my kids to play sports because they want to, not me. I want them to have fun by competing and trying to the best of their abilities.

I need to back off even if it is just being silent. Negativity by me only compounds how they are feeling when they don't play up to what they want to because they are like their parents, hard enough on themselves.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out


Growing up, I often heard the term "garbage in, garbage out". What you put in your body or your brain is what your body or brain will become. If you eat junk, your health will suffer. If you watch or read nothing but junk, then your mind will suffer.

It really makes sense.

But I've noticed something else in our new and "improved" age of social media, and it's a reverse of that above saying.

Garbage out, garbage in.

If you post negatives all day on the Internet, the "garbage out", you will receive lots of negativity back to you. Maybe it's what you want and maybe what you actually put out there is not garbage, but what others need to read. But you cannot be shocked or dismayed if you are attacked.

I guess you can be dismayed because it can be depressing to realize so many do not think the way you do and really you can feel any way you want, it's a free country...at least for awhile. But by spewing your "truths", you need to examine what you are putting out there. Maybe it's righteous words of truth and maybe, just maybe it's garbage.

Garbage out, garbage in.

If you decide that you are going to be the world's solver of all problems, or the solver of problems of a high school basketball program or college basketball program, if you descend into condescending attacks towards anyone who disagree with you,  you are putting garbage out. Sure, it might make you feel better to take the low road, it's easier, but by doing so you've descended into the muck and the mire of the world. And you can best believe, they will sling, sling, and sling some more. And maybe, you are the slinger when you think you are the slingee.

But what I've noticed is that those who are doing the "garbage out, garbage in" really don't start with garbage out. They are products of garbage in and they are angry and ready to strike. Maybe it's legit anger and maybe it's because of their unrealistic expectations.

Which do you choose to be? I try...I try to put more positives out than negatives, but some times accountability and the "truth" comes off as negative. Then you choose to learn and continue the good fight, you choose to be silenced, or....you descend into ignorance.

And don't we owe our children, others, and ourselves to keep from descending into that realm of ignorance? I think so.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


Ok, so maybe not a thousand words, but the above picture is worth a couple hundred. Strike that, it is worth thousands of words, books should be written about the above picture, but I will keep it much shorter than that.

This past weekend my daughter's travel softball team went to Ceraland Park in Columbus, Indiana and won a tournament. They've won some previous tournaments, they've been together for a couple of years and you can see the improvement in the individuals as well as the team. This weekend they won 6 games in two days going undefeated and winning most games rather easily.

After tournaments like this many go out on the field and take pictures whether they've won or not. This day's championship was played on Mother's Day and after most pics were taken, we got the mom's behind the daughters for a good Mother's Day picture.

And the picture screams what is right and wrong in this world. I've often said that just about every single problem in our country can be taken back to the breakdown of the family. And here you have a team picture with every mother there at the tournament watching their strong daughters win. These are all Title IX mothers (the law passed mandating women equality in sports) who had the chance or did play some type of sport growing up.

And who is taking the picture? The Dads in most cases. Not all could be there and that's not a problem because they've been to many other tournaments. But the family support of these girls individually and collectively says a lot about their future successes.

I teach social studies so I am not naive to think that the socioeconomic status, the location of where these families live, etc has an effect on their successes. These young women are also successful in the classroom and with their behavior, but you can look at these mothers and their fathers and all of them have worked to be successful and offer opportunities for their children. They have taken advantage of whatever advantages they could to help their children be successful.

But it's still early, these girls are 11 - 9 years of age. That's a lot of growing up to do and the most traumatic times are approaching (the teen years), but with their families and especially strong mothers that are pictured here, these young women already have a few steps ahead of their counterparts.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Deckers' are Friends of Mine



By the time I am finished writing this, I will have upset quite a few people and maybe lost some friends, and I am sorry if that happens. But maybe that says more about you than me. I have remained silent publicly long enough.

The Decker family are friends of mine. They were before March 2, 2012, but are more so since. It has nothing to do with their "fame", but more of a shared experience of living through an EF 4 tornado. Sure, I am sure you are sick of me talking about it, too. Go elsewhere then that's the great thing about this country, freedom of choice.

But I hear too many negative comments about the Decker family, specifically, Stephanie. Stephanie is the mother who protected her children when the tornado tore through her house in Henryville, IN. Since that day when she should have died, she has done all that she can to provide positive experiences for her family and to help others in similar situations.

Some things I have heard since that day.

1. She didn't do anything anyone else wouldn't have done.
That's true, hopefully, but she was there and she did it and it almost cost Stephanie her life and it did cost her two functioning legs. I am sure she would trade in her notoriety to have her legs back, but maybe not because she is using this horrible situation to help others.

2. I am sick of seeing her in the news.
Do you think she chose for a tornado to destroy her home and take her legs? People react differently to any situation, she has chosen not to remain silent (if you have, that's your decision also a respected decision) and by keeping her name and experience in the media, she has raised thousands, if not millions, of dollars. That money has helped the community of Henryville and children through her foundation receiving prosthesis to play sports.

3. She's not from our community.
Stop, just stop. See #2.



4. I never liked her before.
I knew Stephanie before the tornado and I know her now. She has changed. She smiles more, she takes time to listen more, she admires the accomplishments of so much more than what happens in her own little world. I thought before the accident that she was a good person, but was laser focused on different things. Today, she's different. She's still laser focused, but she seems to have more of an appreciation for others and for life.

5, She gets too much attention and stuff.
I don't know about you, but I have to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I've gotten up sick before. I have gotten up in the middle of the night for sick and crying children. No matter how bad I get with age, I will still be able to walk, maybe much slower. Now imagine not having legs. How much work is it to do anything? We point and see the "positives", but the negatives are not in the spotlight. They are in the mundane details of every day life which is hard WITH two legs.

I am sure I could answer more comments, but it is ridiculous. There are many other people who have dealt with serious situations from that day including my Aunt Lenora who lost her husband, but Stephanie was thrust into the spotlight. She could have stepped back and lived her life quietly, or she could do what she has done...improve the lives and conditions of others through this horrible experience.