My son played in the championship game for his age-bracket in our local Little League this weekend, and sadly they lost. It was a pretty close game, 5-3, and hard-fought by two teams who had been nipping at each others’ heels all season. As my wife and I worked at pulling him out of that dejected funk that only 9 year-olds can plunge themselves into, I found myself resorting to arguments that ordinarily I’d avoid: praising his individual effort rather than the team’s, and pointing out how the star hitter on the other team had actually had a rather poor day.
I was ignoring his team, and putting another kid down to boost his spirits.
I mean, it wasn’t harsh – I wasn’t calling anyone names – but the strategy, while the only thing I could think of at the time, left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m wondering, was that the wrong tactic? After all, it did work – especially when we pointed out that the 2-run double in the bottom of the last inning in front of the collected parents and players of the entire league had probably earned him first-round draft pick status for next year. He was out of his funk in a few minutes and ready for the end-of-season party. What do other parents think? Was it okay, since it was the end of the season, and the team was disbanding anyway (no harm, no foul, so to speak)? Or was I a weak parent, using less-than-positive arguments because I wanted to get my boy through the pain of losing as quickly as possible? I’d love to hear the community’s thoughts on this one.