Life and Sports: It’s Not Always Fair

Recently, we got an e-mail from our coach informing us it’s time for baseball league sign-ups. We were shocked and excited — shocked it was already time to sign-up for baseball again, and excited because it was time to think about baseball again. We had mixed feelings, in spite of the excitement.

The break from team sports is always a relief at our house. Since our son plays fall and spring ball, and flag football, too, we run ourselves ragged during the season. So, we asked ourselves how could we squeeze another activity into our busy lives each week?

First there are practices. Then, it becomes games and practices several times a week, until finally, it is tournament time. Imagine how the parents of “challenge” and “all-star” team players feel. Those families will be hauling gear and kids to games until late June. But I guess they love every minute of it. We do.

Sports and kids are a great combination. There is nothing better than watching your son, or daughter, cross the finish line first or kick the ball into the goal. But, with the thrill of victory, comes the agony of defeat. There is nothing worse than trying to coax your little athlete out of a teary-eyed meltdown when things go horribly wrong.

Handling the ups and downs of sports can be a challenge for parents, as much as the children playing the game. Sure, some children and parents handle the roller-coaster ride without emotion, shrugging off a defeat without much thought. But not my child or me.

Though I know it’s not right to carry on from the bleachers, it’s difficult to avoid getting caught up in wanting, hoping and cheering (indeed praying) for my son to hit a double, or make that game-saving catch. I’ve made many appeals to the Big Man Upstairs for one good “at bat,” just so I don’t have to sit through the heartbreaking ride home after a game filled with self-esteem shaking strike-outs and errors. Sometimes my prayers are answered and sometimes not.

The good news is, kids bounce back so quickly, the devastation of a strike-out or missed goal is soon forgotten. Little athletes get back on the field, the court, the mat or wherever the sport may be and begin enjoying it again.

In my years as a sports mom, I’ve attended lots of ball games and tae kwon do belt tests. And, honestly, as many as I’ve put behind me, I have twice as many ahead. What I have learned is children love sports and gain so much. They learn courage and teamwork, as well as self-reliance and respect. Children learn the all-important lessons of winning and losing. And they learn about taking direction.

But the best lesson they can learn: Life is not fair.

Balls get dropped. Umpires make bad calls. Coaches’ kids get priority. Some players are in the outfield game after game after game. Like Dire Straits sings, “Sometimes you’re the Louisville Slugger; sometimes you’re the ball.” Life is that way … and it’s not always fair. And parents can’t (or shouldn’t) try to fix it for their kids. Some things aren’t fair. Period. Accept it or change it, but don’t let it get you down. This is a great lesson in sports for children to learn.

In this issue, our story about individual and team sports (page 45), suggests considering a child’s passion and personality before settling on a sport (or two) to pursue. If you need some ideas, our online sports directory ( lists local leagues from soccer to swimming with sign-up information updated throughout the year.

Beyond sports, this month is our Annual Camp Guide, filled with helpful tips for planning a summer of fun. Can you believe we’re already talking about sleep-over camps? We’ve got the know-how and share it with you on the safety of summer camp, (page 24), as well as more than 100 sleepover options to choose from in North Carolina and beyond. Many camps are booking fast, so don’t wait too long to choose the right summer experience for your camper. Who knows, maybe it will be a sports camp!