September 26, 2019

Game OVER

Tyler came over to the fence during his third baseball game of the afternoon. He motioned to me.

"Mom, after this game, I'm calling a family meeting."

"You are?"

"Yes."

"What is it about?"

"I'll tell you at the meeting. I'm just letting you know: it's happening."

He wasn't kidding.

At the end of the game, he gathered the three of us around him, his tribe, his team. We stood under the shade tree at the edge of the park.

He took off his mask and he began. "I have a few things to say, and I want you to listen until I'm finished."

We nodded.

"I'd like to begin by thanking you for your contributions to my work as an umpire. Mom, thank you for your investment in my uniform and my equipment. Peter, thank you for everything you taught me. I couldn't have done it without you."

We nodded. Listening.

"I have learned a lot in the last few weeks as an umpire. I've learned that it's hard work, and I've learned that not everyone will always like me and the decisions I make. I've learned that my job is my responsibility. I've learned conflict management. And I've learned that no amount of money is worth this. I've also learned that I'm going go to school as long as I need to so I can be in charge of what jobs I have, and I won't do one where people yell at me all the time. When I'm getting stomachaches at school because I'm worrying about the next game, and when I'm sad to go to school because it's one day closer to the weekend, then maybe this isn't a good fit for me. I've decided I am finished. I am not doing this anymore."

His eyes were blazing.  His jaw was set.  He had made up his mind, and he was prepared to argue his points.

Let me be clear about this: When your kid calls a meeting and presents a respectful, polished, five-point outline, he deserves a voice.

It's hard enough to learn something new.
It's harder to learn in front of people who are older than you, more mature, bigger, and louder, as they watch your every move.
It's hardest to learn when people are verbally assaulting you for your decisions, even when you're not wrong.

As of this week, the league is down one umpire.
He was skilled, qualified, and trained.
He had everything it takes.
His spirit just couldn't handle it.
He is OUT.

Ease up, sports parents.
Your behavior is appalling, unnecessary, and spirit crushing.

We're taking our ball and going home.

 

33 comments on “Game OVER”

  1. I am sorry and sad that people made your sweet boy feel this way. But moreso I love that you have raised him to find his feelings and his words and confidently share them with you. What a wonderful young man ?

  2. Too often we see adults yelling at the child soccer refs for calls they make. I think they are just big bullies who think they can intimidate them into changing their call.
    Our coach has yelled at then a number of times that they’re kids. So glad to have adults stand up to bullies of any size and age.

  3. Having considered all the facts, as well as the emotional stamina of those who love him, it took a great deal of maturity to stand up for himself and his peace of mind and make a decision that was so “adult” and difficult. To see the difference between what we think “we need to do” and “what is actually healthy” for us can take decades for most adults to master. It helped him to know that even if his family might be disappointed, they “had his back” and would support him, no matter what. That support and freedom is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids. Way to go Lott Williford Heyer clan.

  4. Baseball was a joy for my dad and he taught my brother’s and I well. Even though I was a girl he spent just as much time investing in my talent and potential in the game. He never even told me softball existed ! I wasn’t awesome at the game but I loved it and it made my confidence soar to have my Daddy to spend time with me like that . While I didn’t completely loose that confidence what happened when I joined a boys baseball team crushes me still some days . While my brother eventually stopped baseball because overly serious parents responding inappropriately to a game that is about teamwork , sportsmanship and fun ; I was told I needed to quit by my coach. One practice early on in the season ( I don’t think I even got to play a game ) ; he insisted he had to be my partner while practicing some underhand throws . He coached me to hold the mitt facing up ( the wrong way) and when I caught the ball loosely like he said to it rolled up and hit my bottom lip giving me a substantial bruising. When I talked to my parents about what happened and they found out what he taught me to do my Dad calmly and confidently confronted him and the coach insisted I just wasn’t good enough to be on his team . My Dad tried to change his mind but taught me a valuable lesson that people like that just aren’t worth your time and effort , but it still crushed me. There was never overt talk of not being on the team because I was a girl but that was the rumor and it seems to me as I get older that was probably the real reason. Sports as kids are for learning motor skills, exercise, socialization with peers and fun. The kids meant to play professionally will make it happen no matter what parents and coaches do or say because it is their God given gift and talent . Might as well just enjoy the game otherwise . So wise of your son to recognize the truth so young ! Good job parents for supporting him and raising him so well. I moved on to softball and loved it!

  5. So proud of your son. I often wish my husband would take these classes, ump or ref, and then change his behaviors at games. Parents can be ridiculous. I hope this post changes the perspective of those who feel they can say anything to anyone at anytime.

  6. This young man has integrity, thinks clearly, is in touch with his feelings, knows his great personal boundaries and is able to articulate displeasure in a situation and make a case for a positive alternative without resorting to drama. He is going to be outstanding in whatever field God leads him into. If it's a political office and I'm in his district, I'll be honored to help him win. We need leaders like Tyler--in every field.

  7. This is SO GOOD! Proud of your boy! My boy just had to quit his tire changing job that he worked all summer, because playing music at church, for the congregation and God, was more important to him. While it is volunteer for now, he is so appreciative of the opportunity to do what he loves, and inspire people alongside awesome messages every week. It was hard for him to tell us as well, but asked me to help him write his first two-week notice letter. I said I'd had a lot of practice doing that! So proud of our boys being true to themselves, and to us at this age. It isn't an easy road growing up, and into your best self!

  8. Awe, that’s sad he had to give it up. But wait, he knows “conflict management”? Geez, he knows what he’s taking about, especially as an umpire. It should be the easiest at this age, but it only gets worse.

  9. Tyler is the bravest. Greg did a similar thing with a sport because his baseball coach was so demoralizing. There really is a limit to what kids (human beings) can and should take. Yay for Tyler ! Greg concentrated on a sport he loved after that and still loves it to this day. His basketball team made it to the state championship. Life has a way of turning out all right when you follow your heart and gut. I couldn’t be more proud of Tyler.

  10. That was the major reason I despised watching my girls play sports. Parents are NUTS! I just wanted everyone to have a good time but it always got ugly. Way to go Tyler. You tried it but it’s not for you. And that is ok! What a mature way to handle it too.

  11. My husband and daughter are soccer referees... it took quite a while for my daughter to be willing to be the center ref - and she reffed 2 games and said she'd never do it again. Why? Because parents of a U8 and U10 game think it's ok to yell at a 15 year old girl who has played the sport since she was 4 years old, but apparently doesn't have eyes on EVERY inch of that field. My husband can handle it well, but when kids are learning - ease up folks! Kudos to your son for understanding why he felt that way and doing something about it. It shows that he will be a great man some day!

  12. Proud of this young man as at the same time super sad that he was mistreated. My husband (as a coach) stood up for a kid umpire. He was not popular with the team that was being so unkind but I was insanely proud that my husband would stick up for the umpire who was just doing their best!!

  13. I have 2 boys who umpire. I get it. I TOTALLY get it. I'm proud of your boy who knew where his limit was, and YOU his mama for letting him say no. We have parents who still push their sons to keep going, and they are not well suited for this.

  14. This is INCREDIBLE. Loved every word, as always. INTEGRITY! Great job Tyler, great job family! Heartsoaring over this post. So proud of all of you.

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