4 Apr

My son Pudge’s baseball season officially begins this Saturday with his Tigers taking the field in an away game. Pudge (so named because he is a catcher) has been playing baseball spring summer and fall for the past five years rising through the tortures of Little League to Senior Ball to his school team Bulldogs to AAU. Along the way I have had some involvement in addition to being his equipment and travel manager— I was an assistant coach and member of the local Little League’s Board of Directors ( a truly eye opening experience).
One thing has stood out for me in these years of following kid sports —there are a too many adults involved, usually with a volatile mix of motives for that involvement

It is that circumstance that led me to an enlightening book that should be required reading for every little league apparatchik and parent—WHOSE GAME IS IT ANY WAY? (Mariner Books) by Richard D. Ginsburg, Stephen Durant and Amy Baltzell, Here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

In an era when parents and kids are overwhelmed by a sports-crazed, win-at-all-costs culture, here is a comprehensive guide that helps parents ensure a positive sports experience for their children. In Whose Game Is It, Anyway? two of the country’s leading youth sports psychologists team up with a former Olympic athlete and expert on performance enhancement to share what they have gleaned in more than forty years of combined experience.

…Through moving case studies and thoughtful analyses, Ginsburg, Durant, and Baltzell advocate a preventive approach through a simple three-step program: know yourself, know your child, know the environment. They look at children in age groups, identifying the physical, psychological, and emotional issues unique to each group and clarifying what parents can expect from and desire for their kids at every stage. They also explore myriad relevant topics, including parental pressure, losing teams, steroid use, the overscheduled child, and much more. Illuminating, impassioned, and inspiring, Whose Game Is It, Anyway? is required reading for anyone raising—or educating—a child who participates in sports.

Journlist Mark Hyman (Until it Hurts)addresses the other horn of the youth sports dilemma with his new book THE MOST EXPENSIVE GAME IN TOWN (Beacon Press). Given that 50 million kids participate in sports in the USA, this is a timely and useful book. In the interest of concision, here’s the publisher’s description of Hyman’s tome:

Building on his eye-opening investigation into the damaging effects of the ultra-competitive culture of youth sports in his first book, Until It Hurts, sports dad and journalist Mark Hyman takes us behind the scenes for a startling look at the business of youth sports, how it has changed, and how it is affecting young Americans. Examining the youth sports economy from many sides-the major corporations, small entrepreneurs, coaches, parents, and, of course, kids-Hyman probes the reasons for rapid changes in what gets bought and sold in this lucrative marketplace.

When I was a kid we would gather, after school and on weekends, at the local diamond or basketball court and play and play and play with almost no adult supervision. And we didn’t gave $300 mitts and $200 bats. So it goes

Currently reading The Cove by Ron Rash (Ecco)

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