While waiting for my daughter’s softball game to start, we could not help but pause and watch the t-ball kids play. It seems whether playing soccer or t-ball or probably any other sport when kids in the 4-5 age range are involved, they pose extra challenges to coaches, referees and the fans.
- The coaching staff is not sitting on the bench. Every one of them is out there on the field trying to keep the kids focused on the ball….at least at the point where the batter’s bat impacts the ball off of the tee.
- It is expected the base runners will jump up and down on the bases. They will also wave at their parents in the stands. They may leave the base as they become distracted. One thing they rarely if ever need to worry about is being tagged out. “Force” outs seem to the only way you will get out. (Unless you hit the ball and forget to run to first base….then they may get tagged out.)
- The coach of the team at bat needs to be very careful while putting the ball on the tee. Unexpected enthusiasm could make his head look like a ball on a tee.
- The umpire is really a coach with an asterisk. In the brief time we were watching, I saw him pick up a player and move him to another part of the field. Not sure why…?
- No kids are on the bench. And, no kids are in the outfield. Almost every square meter of the infield has a kid kicking up his required cloud of dust.
- From the kids perspectives, getting an out is not the goal. Being the first one of the swarm to pounce on the ball is enough. If you get the ball first and make an effort to chase the base runner to the bag, your parents will probably buy you a Happy Meal.
- Little kids in uniforms are kind of like when a person wears the uniform of the armed forces. The military person always looks brave. The kid just looks cute. There are pony tails (it was co-ed), neon cleats and ill fitting gloves. The batting helmets may not fit snugly and wobble a bit. They are wearing uniforms that are similar to those of major league teams but shrunk to 1/4 of their previous size. It almost gives the kids a “midget” like look. It brings a smile to your face to watch them!
If I watched more of their games, I am sure I would have noticed more. Not only did watching bring a smile, but it also brought back memories of a coach I knew 10 or 15 years ago who got the privilege of feeling the pride of coaching his own kids. And, maybe that was the best part of my brief time Saturday as a tee ball fan.