Our house sits directly across from a park with two youth baseball/softball fields. When our boys were younger they had many games and practices there. Sometimes when the weather was bad, my wife would invite parents into our house to watch the game from our living room. She’d make hot chocolate and they’d joke about being in the executive suites. I was a coach, so I always was left out in the cold.
My sons are older now and a new generation of kids and their parents have taken our place at the fields. Each night they show up and park in front our house. They jump out of their mini-vans and SUV’s, grab their fold-up chairs, bags of equipment, and haul it to the field.
The teams that play here have graduated from T-ball and coach-pitch. Now it’s the kids chance to pitch. Some of them struggle to throw strikes and the games can go on forever. As the sun begins to set, the strike zone seems to grow.
It really is fun to watch the kids play the game that we loved so much. It’s a joy to see coaches take a real interest in teaching kids the game. Since it is usually the same teams that play here each week, I get to see the improvement as the season goes on.
The kids have so much fun…most of the time.
Now that I’m just a spectator from across the street, I’ve become aware of a part of the game that I didn’t see when I was in the midst of it. It’s the loudness. Not the cheering really. It’s all the instruction. Or I should say, the over-instruction. Each team has three to five parents who volunteer as coaches. Each one of them call out advice to their players.
“Look alive!” “Ready position!” “Charlie, know where you are going with the ball.” “Keep your head in there!” “Pivot and throw.” “Just throw strikes!” “Watch the coach when you round second base.” “Carl, would you quit making piles of grass in the outfield and be ready!” “Good eye, Brian!” “Back up.” “Move in.”
On top of this, you have all of the parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and other teammates all shouting instructions too. Sometimes there are times so many people are shouting, you can’t make out what any of them are saying.
My favorite time is when someone gets a hit and forty people tell him to run. Like he doesn’t know to run?
When my 18-year-old came home the other night, I actually apologized to him because I’m sure that I did the same thing when he was playing the game.
If I’m honest with myself, my cheering and instruction was not always about my kid and the other players. It was about me. I wanted them to do well because it made me feel good about myself. As parents we find ourselves often living vicariously through every hit, throw, and catch of our kids.
Deep inside of me there was a sick joy when a child on the other team failed allowing my kids’ team to succeed. I remember one time a player from another team struck out to end the game and I was secretly happy about it. The next day that same kid was sitting in front of us at church. I felt like such a hypocrite.
1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that “love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.”
I can’t think of a better verse to think about every time my child steps onto the playing field. I’ve had to confess many times for not loving this way.
How to Become a 1st Corinthians 13 Sports Fan
• Don’t wish that your child could be more like some other child.
• Remember that kids develop at different ages. The player who looks just average today might be the star tomorrow.
• Be cautious not to cheer on the failure of others.
• Let the players play. They don’t need to be told every move to make.
• Cheer the great plays by both teams.
• Remember, this is not about you.
Last week I saw a 1 Corinthian 13 parent. After the game was over, the kids and parents were walking to their cars. One of the dads from the blue team called out to one of the players on the red team. “Hey, 24. That was a fantastic double play you made today. I’m going to remember that one. Wow!”
You should have seen that kid light up. He’ll probably remember that comment the rest of his life.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
By Pete Larson
Husband to Lynn
Father of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Executive Director of Family Fest Ministries