I don’t post game results or highlights on Facebook. I don’t tweet them either. I keep stats manually because I think they’re an invaluable tool for any coach, but I don’t use an online app to keep my book. I never share the stats with the players or their parents. I think TeamSnap and the like are fantastic for organization, but I will never stream a game.
I’m not technology-adverse. I’m a CTO in my day job. I simply believe in the incessant posting and streaming, we are getting it wrong. We are putting the focus squarely on the outcome and forgetting the journey is what it important.
I won’t stream games because to me the beauty of youth sports as a parent is watching your child experience everything that comes with playing the game. “Watching” the game as a series of blips on a screen puts all the emphasis on where the blip ends up. Suddenly it is becomes really important the blip ends up on the other side of the fence and not as a backwards K when the reality is neither really matters at this age. I recognize not everyone can juggle schedules and be there and there is no judgment or condemnation here. A blip on my screen isn’t a substitute though.
I also won’t stream games because of the stats-myopia it encourages. The stats are meaningless. No one should care what Dante’s batting average is or how many doubles he’s hit or how many RBI he has. The stats are important to me because they are a confirmation or refutation of what I believe I am seeing on the field and in practice. And I don’t look at any batting average or doubles or RBIs to inform my thoughts. I don’t want the kids obsessing over them and I don’t want the parents obsessing over them because what really matters is Dante getting better. Is he swinging the bat better than he did before? Is he making contact better than he did before? Is he hitting the ball harder than he did before?
I won’t post to Facebook about our games or our team because there’s a kid on the other end of every post with the ubiquitous video about some 9U pitcher blowing it by the hitter. Do we post a video when that same hitter tattoos the ball the next time up?
And I won’t tweet because no kid deserves to be publically shamed no matter what the offense.
He’s a twelve-year-old kid who made a mistake, a bad mistake, but the only people who should know or care are his coach, the opposing coach, the umpires and his parents. The rest of us should even know it ever happened. Yet we do.
And I won’t post to Facebook or tweet because what does “the best 9U team” or the fact you won the “XYX 9U tournament” or that your kid did X really mean (and on occasion I’ve been guilty of that last one which I have promised myself to never do again)? So did 100,000 other teams and kids on that same exact day and time just in a different place.
I feel bad when I mention my son on this blog. He didn’t ask or consent to be showcased for better or for worse. He simply said, “I want to play baseball.” It’s not his fault his old man has stumbled and bumbled blindly into the teeter-totter world of youth baseball. It’s also why I will never use anyone’s name, kid, coach, umpire or otherwise.
In our need to show our “friends” and “followers” how great our kid is, and by extension, I assume how good we are as well, we have forgotten the fact the vast majority of our kids will only play for an ever-so-limited time that does not include college let alone being paid to play. We’ve forgotten their enjoyment is paramount, their accomplishments now matter not one iota other than for the joy and pride those accomplishments bring to them, emphasis on them, and if they want to keep on enjoying playing this game, their improvement from one day to the next is what we should be worried about.
I understand it. When I am coaching my daughter’s t-ball softball and have to miss my son’s rec game, I wish someone was streaming it and I wish my fellow coaches on my son’s team would text me periodically with the score and what my son has done. But then I think about the conversation he and I are going to have when I get home, about how Timmy did this, and my son did this and the umpire made this call and then my son did this. And I’ll listen intently and picture it all in my mind and know, no matter what he did, hero or goat, he’ll need a hug and for me to tell him I love him and an affirmation that “it sounds like an amazing game. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to watch you play tonight. I’ll be there next game.”