In one of my classes last week, I got the opportunity to hear Coach Fogel, the Chico State Womens Head Basketball Coach, speak about his experiences within sport. He got to discussing youth sport and how ridiculously competitive it has become over the years. Kids used to just go outside and play pick up games with their friends. Now youngsters are competing for spots and driving two hours to merely get the chance to play in a few games. Wouldn’t kids be better off getting 500 repetitions in their front yard with their friends? Youth sport has become obsessed with getting kids to the next level with the sole goal of eventually showing them off to college recruiters. Where did just playing for fun go?
Pursuing softball as a collegiate career caused me to take the game seriously at a young age. I have been playing highly competitive ball on multiple teams since elementary school. Although I began playing the sport because it was fun, I continued to play because I enjoyed the competitive aspect. I found pleasure in mastering the skills of the sport and demonstrating competency through competition. Practicing, or “playing”, became a habit. It was just something you did. You suited up, worked your hardest, and fine tuned your talent. To an elite athlete, that’s fun. Over time your mindset gets confined into thinking that playing softball always has to be productive. I had lost the sense that this is a game, something kids do for fun just like four-square or dodge-ball. For me, softball had been taken out of that category. It was a sport, and it needed to always be taken seriously.
Just recently, a friend of mine put softball back into perspective. He had challenged me to a dual; I was to pitch, and he was to attempt to hit off me. Challenge accepted. We went down to the local high school with my dad and went head to head. Wow, pitching was no longer effortless like it used to be. But regardless, I was still triumphant for the most part, and best of all; we all had a blast. It was fun to just get outside, move, and throw a ball around. We just enjoyed the natural rhythm of the game on a beautiful spring day. This experience completely revived my love for the game of softball. A physical activity I can engage in with friends to pass the time. In fact, the very next weekend I drove up to Folsum to visit an old teammate and we spent most of the day on Saturday playing softball. It was silly and carefree, and brought back all those feelings that made me stick with the sport in the first place.
What have you been missing out on? Get out and go play!
Quote of day:
“Life is more fun when you play games”-Roald Dahl