NOTE TO MY SON’S BASEBALL COACH
I’ve been thinking a lot about kids’ baseball lately, as both Sangha and
Radhika are playing. And I’m a teacher, so I’m fascinated by coaching. I
like the coaching I’m seeing; Sangha’s skills have improved immensely,
and he’s focusing in ways I haven’t seen, except when he gets a new Lego
set. So clearly, the experience has been very valuable for him. But it
does bother me that some of the coaches seem to think the goal of
playing baseball at 10 years of age is to get to the majors, or be a
national champion, or be the very best. Not that I don’t like to see
people perform well (Ichiro slapping a hit to win the game; Pujols
scoring from third on a grounder to the pitcher; Edmonds circus catching
in the outfield, all these make me very happy),
but it seems to me that there’s more to this game than future exploits.
There’s also THIS moment to enjoy.No one has told the boys that baseball
is a beautiful sport, one that teaches you to focus, to move your body
in ways that make you and the spectator feel good, one that makes you
think better, and that baseball is an art. That’s what I would like to
hear. Enjoy the moment, live inside of it, and baseball will become
something you can enjoy the rest of your lives, no matter when or how
your “career” playing it ends. The benefits of baseball are now.
I teach students to write and read poetry. Many of them are scared to
death of it. So I have to show them how not to be scared at the same
time I teach them to make something new. Very few of them are going to
be poets or professors or anything related to my field. But I want them
to learn how to think like a poet, how to play with the world in ways
that are meaningful and enjoyable to othem and to others. So I have them
play a lot (even though I give them grades at the end . . . ). I find
that their responses tend to be very positive. So my suggestion would be
to tell the kids to _play_ more. It’s a game. It can be a very serious
one, but you get to the serious stuff by being creative.
Thanks for listening!