Sports helpful in negotiating life

I have no problem with teaching boys to express their feelings as presented by Jennifer Kogan in Monday’s parenting column. I am sure that her intentions are noble and, yes, it is true, males may actually have problems in this area. But to suggest that a Little Leaguer striking out and wanting to cry is a place to start this “sensitivity” education leaves me a bit out in left field.

If we cuddle and hug little Johnny and make sure he gets a trophy even though the team went winless, he will never be able to recognize the real situations in life where he will need to be able to express his feelings — let alone understand those feelings. If we keep doing this to our kids, they will never be able to stand on their own two feet and face the really hard moments in life. Instead they will be looking for that treat or that trophy that says “I am extra special regardless of the outcome.”

As a Little League coach, I encountered these very situations many, many times. I used to ask the kid: “Are you crying for yourself or are you crying for the team?” They have to learn that there is always something out there that is bigger than them — family, country, God and, in this case, the team.

Life, like sports, is definitely not all winning and team parties. Sports is a great arena to teach our kids not only how to be good winners but also how to face up to defeat in a positive and constructive way while still giving their best to win and compete. Sports also helps us to control our feelings during magnificent highs but also during some horrific lows. Sounds a lot like life. Just let them play.

Tony Fortino