The school year is about to start, which brings a new year of sport opportunity, fall drama, and everything else a new round of education brings with it. Our baseball league, which is finishing up the Summer All Star season which had it's tryouts in the Spring, is currently in the middle of travel ball tryouts for the next year. Travel basketball, which last year didn't start playing until November, has tryouts from the end of August through September. I could keep going, but my fellow sports parents out there know I don't need to. As the year goes on there will be more and more of these opportunities, but we every year it seems to heat up as the late Summer months roll into Fall. I know different parts of the country may have a slightly different sweet spot, but the truths of this article will carry through.
Throughout all of these tryouts, there will be multiple story lines:
- There will be kids who make the team, along with all of their friends, and everyone is thrilled.
- There will be kids who none of their friend group makes the team, and they just don't understand what happened.
- There will be the kid who makes the team, but their friends don't, and has to decide to move on to the next thing alone.
- There will be the kid who doesn't make the team and really didn't want to do it anyway.
- There will be the kid who doesn't make the team and is absolutely devastated.
- There will be the kid who has to watch their friends move on to the next thing, and not get to join them.
My family has been on each and every side of this. In addition, my husband is a coach, so he has been the one having to make all of these hard decisions. Before you unload on a coach after your kid or their friends don't make the team, imagine how hard it is on them to know that they are going to have to make the decisions that will leave a ten year old crushed. They are aware of that, more than you know, and yes, it keeps them up at night.
In each and every one of these scenarios, be loving. When one of your child's friends makes the team, be thrilled for them and their family whether your family will be with them or not. If you are going to be together, let them know how much you are looking forward to that. If you are not, regardless of whether your kid made the team or their's did, be supportive. Talk about the opportunities in front of them, because there will always be a new opportunity if you look for it. There is nothing wrong with being happy for one while acknowledging that the other is disappointed. Some many people think they can't do that. Trust me, you can. At the end of the day, they are still kids who simply need to be loved. Love them in success and love them in disappointment. The need for that doesn't change when they put on a jersey. Root for their success regardless of which jersey they wear. Even if the current opportunity is to be a supporter on the sidelines, teach them just how much their friends on the team need that. That role is needed and important, too.
The same holds true amongst the adults. We need to be supportive of one another. Being angry at each other when one mother gets to buy their child a new uniform and another doesn't only creates animosity that our children feel. Why would we choose to do that to our children? That animosity I have felt personally, and I can't tell you how much it hurt. (For those of my friends wondering whom I'm talking about, this has happened more than once over the years, so this isn't about any one person. Oh, how I would love to have only witnessed and experienced this once.) Time heals all wounds, and it healed those ones as well, but when I felt the ire of parents when my son made a team and their's didn't, it was the ones who were supportive who made the entire situation bearable. I will forever love them for it. All I could do was remember what it felt like when my child was the one who didn't make the team, and choose to love those who were angry. Again, I've felt both sides.
We're all human. I get that. Disappointment can make us angry. It can also simply be confusing, and we are never able to think straight when we are confused. What we can do, however, is choose to be loving. Yes, it's a choice. Make the decision today to react with love. Be happy for those who make the team, and love them. Hug them and let them know you care. Be a shoulder for those who don't make the team, and love them. Hug them and let them know you care.
That is a choice you get to make.
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