(Continued from July 23, 2011) …. From a baseball standpoint, their plan of the assistant coaches worked like a charm! My son banged a double, another single, and drew a walk, knocked in two runs and scored three before the final inning.
Defensively, he made four routine catches, threw a runner out at second who had been trying to stretch a single into a double and … well, then this happened:
A batter hit a deep flyball to centerfield; my son turned around with his back to the infield and ran like a deer; he turned around to face the infield and make the catch and then … promptly fell down flat on his back! He sat up; raised his glove; and … MADE THE CATCH! The entire crowd was cheering mightily including, again, the fans, players, and coaches from the other team. Our own fans, players, and coaches were going extra berserk!
The opposing manager ran up to him between innings and told him that it was the best catch that he had ever seen. He just might have been correct!
To add frosting to the cake, our team won the game, 11-9!
Well, clearly, the assistant coaches had raised a great point! Leaving my own son in for the entire game, against my fairness plan, had worked, as it propelled us to victory!
So, after the players’ celebration and post-game talk, I began to head to the parking lot, fully embracing for the “favoritism” comments that were sure to come my way.
The first two parents said something along the lines of, “Hey coach – great victory.” Whew! Maybe not as bad as I thought!
The third parent asked to see me privately. Uh-oh, I thought. The parent said, “My own son is not a very good player, but your son is pretty good. I don’t know why you kept taking him out, but I was about to pull my son off of the team, as I really wanted him to have the experience of winning. Listen, my son is good at painting and your son is good at baseball. Just go with it.”
The fourth and fifth parents came together and said, “Great job, coach … really great job.” I said, “Thank you. It was nice to get a win.”
Parents 4 and 5 said, seemingly in unison, “We were being sarcastic! Sure, tonight you did a great job, but why did you keep taking your own son every other inning? We don’t care about fairness- we care to win, so leave him in.”
Those parents were less than friendly in their missive, but the message was now clear. Everybody wanted to win, even if it meant that his or her own kid had to ride the bench!
A few other parents came up to me, obviously in a good winning mood, to pass along similar thoughts of great victory, nice job, etc. It was clear that everybody enjoyed being part of a winner, even if their own kid had to ride the bench more than others!
Well, alrighty then, I threw away my “beautiful plan” of fairness, arranged the lineup to ensure that the best players were in the game for as many innings as possible, only substituting for rightfield and second base, and …. we went 8-1 for the rest of the season!
A lesson on winning for the kids and a lesson for the coach on “fairness” and the true desires of most people - …. WINNING!
Paul W. Reeves