“They’re on the Phillies, I think. And so is so-and-so, and he’s like one of the best players! I don’t think they did the teams very well…”
“Oh, honey, I am sure the teams were fair based on what the evaluators saw at try outs.” My middle son was talking about two of his best friends who were not on the same team as him. “And anyway, aren’t you ‘like one of the best players,’ too?”
I had just picked up The Bigs from their second day at the baseball camp that they were attending during school vacation week.
“Well, think about last year — your team made it all the way to the final game of the playoffs.”
“I hate the Cubs!”
“Is that the team that beat your team in the final game?”
“Yeah!” he spit the word out with contempt.
“Well, you can’t always be number one. But no matter where you end up you can always be a good sport.”
“Seriously. I saw Dustin Pedroia strike out looking yesterday. I could tell he was furious. I am sure he wanted to whack the umpire with his bat. The pitch was way inside.”
“The point is, you can feel however you want, you just can’t…”
“…kill someone?” he interrupted. I imagined he was reliving the pain of not winning the championship game last year. It had been a lot of pressure for several of the kids, some of whom, like my son, were only seven, and some of whom may have been younger. Some, fortunately for them, didn’t even realize that the game was the grand finale.)
“Uhmmm, yes, well…” I hoped he meant that figuratively and wondered if I needed to review his Nintendo DS games. I don’t think anyone in Mario Hoops 3 on 3 actually dies, and I am certain that in the Pokemon games the battles end when one of the characters “faints.” I was going to say ‘act in a socially inappropriate manner.’ And having a hissy fit on the baseball field is not socially appropriate. That’s why Dustin Pedroia didn’t have a hissy fit.”
The conversation moved on.
I am glad for the backdrop of sports in my kids lives. It gives me a context for discussion and them a context for understanding how to get along with others, how to do your best, when to be a leader and when to be a follower, and how to handle things when they don’t go the way you think they should. The “with grace and dignity” part will come as they mature, I am sure.