I’m a Loser, Baby

I’m a Loser, Baby

A few years ago, I wrote a post about youth sports, that turned into a magazine article about horrible sports parents, and I swore for the upteenth time to be a better parent and just enjoy what my kids do, for the joy itself. I’ve mostly succeeded.

It’s a given that sports parents, particularly travel sports parents, take things way too seriously, present company included. If we needed to be reminded that sometimes we as parents and coaches are the absolute worst, all one need do is read the local paper.


The news this past week from the Tennessee District 7-AAA consolation game, where both teams were eventually disqualified for purposefully trying to tank the game in order to draw a weaker set of opponents, aptly demonstrates our priorities set wrong, when we teach that winning is the only thing that matters.

Sadly, I wasn’t surprised. Growing up as an athlete, I was “recruited” by private schools to come and play “on scholarship”, as were any number of athletes I grew up with. We even had an “undocumented” fifteen year old play on our twelve year-old football league team, because our coach couldn’t “find” his birth certificate.

Happened then. Happens now.

When my oldest son was playing travel hockey as a ten-year old, we played another travel team that needed to lose in order to get a favorable draw in the next round of our tournament. They suited up their defensemen as forwards, their forwards as defensemen, and played a goalie who had never worn gear before. Ten year olds. And they got away with it, because we only learned of it after the fact when we overheard the other team’s parents laughing over it. I’m sure they are growing up to be swell.

We’re under the mistaken impression that when we sell our souls, it happens in one huge, obvious transaction. In reality, we sell our souls a tiny piece at a time; every time we demonstrate that the rules are for suckers, that fairness is negotiable, and it’s OK as long as you don’t get caught.

Just look at our current Super Bowl “champs.”

We tell ourselves that it’s OK to cheat, because this is low-consequence youth sports.

But are these really the lessons you want your children to remember?

You get your kids for such a vanishingly small amount of time. Don’t let them remember you for how well you were able to screw the other guy.

The C Word

The C Word

After all of the hub-bub over the weekend over a couple of M words (mommybloggers and Motrin), I’ve successfully (so far) resisted the urge to comment directly (much) on the subject.

Instead, I’ll relate a little vignette over a related parenting topic concerning a C word – circumcision.

As some of you may know, I’m the adoptive father of two sons.  And since these were open adoptions, we were fortunate enough to have a say as to whether our sons were to be circumcised or not.

Like all things parental or related to parenting, people are all over the map, pro and con, regarding circumcision.

Some people are quite in your face about it, as a matter of fact.

For the purposes of this discussion, I won’t say whether we did or didn’t opt to circumcise – but will disclose that our decision was not so much based upon religious or health issues as much as on social considerations (why am I different from Dad? Why am I different from big brother?).  Hopefully, this paragraph will be the most uncomfortable one you have to read here…

Point is, when it comes to parenting, it gets down to the core of your most basic beliefs of what it takes to raise a person… to BE a person; and when someone attacks your parenting choices, you don’t take it as a knock on a particular choice (breast vs. bottle, sling vs. stroller, hospital vs. midwife, circumcision vs. not, etc.) – you take it as a direct attack on your most basic beliefs.

Hence the vitriolic reaction among a segment of the blogosphere over the weekend.

Anyway, back to the C word.

While getting ready to leave the hospital with my second son, we informed the doctor of our decision regarding circumcision.

The attending physician was obviously in disagreement with our choice.  You could tell by his demeanor.

And by the fact that he asked us like three times if we’re really sure about it.

It wasn’t the first time we’d run into the “hey, you’re a bad parent if…” deal, and it wasn’t the last.

The point is this – you and your family have to live with the decisions you make.  No one else, as long as your decisions are within the law, obviously.

Every day you drop your kid off in the school line in a certain brand of car, or go to a particular restaurant, or play on a certain team, or dress your child a certain way, or subscribe to a certain philosophy of child rearing – you’re gonna be judged.

Get over it, deal like a grown up.  Chill.

Because there are enough difficulties in being a parent – good or bad – besides someone dogging your point of view in an online ad.

Now, please excuse me.  I’m going to go write a strongly worded letter about a “Dad is an idiot” commercial I just saw.