Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Memoirs of a Softball Coach: Foul Balls, Pouting, and Poor Sportsmanship

When is a foul ball foul? Isn't there an actual foul ball rule that if it's outside the base line, it's foul? I always assumed that was just a given, internationally known. WRONG! Apparently, some people don't know there is a foul ball rule. If you hit a foul, you go back and hit again. It's not a fair ball, you do not advance to first base. According to some (like other coaches who don't have a clue) foul balls are good. So, instead of realizing that foul balls are foul, we have to stop the game, waste 20 minutes reading the rules only to find that there is nothing in the written rules about foul balls! So we go back to where I started, the foul ball rule is internationally known! How can you even question it? Well, I stood my ground! This little red head has been playing softball for years, you don't question the foul ball rule!
And after you've had the little spat about whether or not to acknowledge fouls, do you be a grown up and let it go, or do you pout and stomp away. Well, apparently you pout and stomp away. At least that's what I learned from the other coach tonight. My parents stood behind me, though! After the game I got pats on the back saying, Good job, Coach, Way to stand your ground! But did I teach the girls anything? I got my way, but I think of it more as, I enforced the rules of the game. Even if they weren't written, they are reasonable, assumed rules of softball. Unfortunately the coach of the opposing team didn't see it that way.
Poor sportsmanship is something we emphasize greatly with these girls at the elementary school level. We do not stomp off the field and pout, we do not jeer at the other team, and we do not brag when we've won the game. So how do you teach girls this when they see others doing it? Especially a grown up. I had the unfortunate experience tonight of two of my girls who were in the "cheering section", a clever name I devised for sitting on the bench, who decided to sneakily distract the opposing team at bat by cheering for them. Huh? How does that work? Every time the girl would step up for bat, my girls would cheer so loudly for them they would get distracted. It actually took me a little while to notice. Busy as I am with the girls in the outfield, parents asking questions, and the ump who likes to chew my ear off, I actually didn't notice this was going on. I thought it odd that they were cheering so loud for their teammates in the outfield, but they are called the "cheering section". I was mortified when I realized what these two girls, MY GIRLS, were doing! How could MY GIRLS be jeering the other team by cheering for them!? I thought I had taught them better than that. Granted we haven't been together for too long, but we talk about positive sportsmanship every time we get together. I guess next time I need to focus on the difference between positive and negative sportsmanship for the girls and the adults.

No comments: