Play Ball!

OCTOBER 20, 2008
the illoz Angels

Why is it that kids baseball team photos are all the same?

The photographer lines everyone up according to height so that the photograph is nice and symetrical. Everyone is instructed to put their hands behind them or at their sides. Face forward.... look like winners....and  snap, that's your memory. A solumn line-up of kids who signed up to have a good time and play a great game in the sun.

I've been involved with youth baseball for over 15 years now and year after year as the teams line up for their generic photos, I've often wondered, why so serious? For me, baseball is about having fun - and when I say "fun", I really do mean exacty that.

Most coaches insist that it's all about having a good time. In fact, they will repeat it over and over again. Have fun! But the truth is, when the game is on the field there are very few who actually deliver on their promise. Parents rarely help either. They scream from the bleachers, not with joy, but about the missed call or the missed opportunity.

By far, the largest group in youth baseball is the very young. Players from ages four to eight outnumber players at age eleven by double. By age thirteen, the number of players is only a tenth of those who started at age six. Why do the stop playing? They stop because they thought the word "play" actually meant it was about having fun. It turned out to be exactly the opposite.

Sadly, team photos are very often a snapshot of broken promises. I see it year after year.

But, I'm not willing to give up! I'll be back next season with the same crazy notion that this game really is about having a good time. Perhaps I'm delusional, so be it. Play Ball kids!