Published in Issue #113 / March 2016
Hello sports fans! Welcome to spring. As I write this, the sun is blazing through my office window from a pleasant 71 degree afternoon in Concord. I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt. All of which makes it only feel right that I’m writing to introduce our 2016 Baseball/Softball Preview issue.
I always look forward to this time of the year. I feel like I say that in this space every time we begin to change seasons. However, I can assuredly say that as long as I’ve been writing about high school sports, March and September have always been my two favorite months.
September due to the excitement of a new school year and, of course, the dawn of football season. And March because of the blend that occurs between the winter and spring sports. Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than being out in the sunshine for baseball and softball tournaments during the day, and then covering basketball playoffs in the evening. Can’t be topped.
This March will be especially meaningful to me. I will be reaching a monumental threshold for a sports fan and parent: My oldest son, Connor, will be joining the organized sports world. He’ll be one of 11 players on the Express, an Antioch Little League T-Ball team which will wear royal blue, red and white. Music to the ears of Mom and Dad, diehard Chicago Cubs fans. Our T-Ball game-day wardrobe is already taken care of. Sweet.
Still, Connor’s ascent into team sports has me nervous. Not so much for Connor. He’s a gregarious 5-year-old who doesn’t seem to have any problem making friends. He can hit underhand pitches from about 20 feet away, so I don’t expect a stationary ball to give him much trouble. His throwing accuracy is fine. Catching is a work in progress.
But again, I’m not really worried about Connor. I’m worried about me.
I’m now joining the society of youth sports parents, and that’s not always been a club I’ve been very fond of. When you write about high school and youth sports for a living, you cross paths with a ton of parents. Many are great. Some I’ve befriended. But several others struggle to show their best side when their child, the athlete, is involved.
Through my dealings with these parents, I’ve always told myself that I will strive to be the most supportive, most respectful and most sane sports parent possible. But I’ve got some competitive instincts (shouldn’t be a problem for T-Ball — no score, no umpires), a fairly deep knowledge of sports and a burning hope that Connor will have an experience that makes him love team sports as much as I did growing up.
It all comes from a good place, but I know it’s also a mixture that can be toxic if I’m not careful.
That I’m aware of the possible pitfalls gives me an advantage, but I know I’ll need to check myself at some point. In the end, I think this will help me with troublesome parents in the future. We’re in the same club now. Let’s work on being the best examples we can.
At least Connor won’t have to deal with any jerk sportswriters leaving him off of any all-area lists just yet. So the Bryson family should be good for the time being.
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