The Brainiac decided at age 11, to take up baseball for the first time this past spring. I was worried that he would be relegated to the bench, considering his lack of experience and skill. But we/he lucked out with a coach who was very supportive of all the kids and played all the kids equally despite their skill level. B even got a chance to play the infield a few times, as all the kids did. It was a very pleasant introduction to baseball.
B ejoyed playing so much he decided to sign up for Fall Ball, which is a differnt league than Spring Ball. It's not the same supportive environment. His team has ten players. Nine are needed in the field each game. The season is half over and B has spent half the time on the bench, swapping playing left field with another kid while all the others get to play the whole game. All get to bat regardless of their playing time on the field, so it's not about getting the best bats in and out. The good ol boys who are coaching the team are too lazy to rotate the kids in and out. So they have chosen to just swap B out with this other kid. The team, The Hillbilly Astros (I kid you not) is getting their asses waxed just about every game, so it's not about winning the title, etc. And even though he isn't a great player, he's just as good as the other outfielders.
B decides to take issue with this and we encourage him to speak with the head coach. After a recent game he approached the coach and told him that he wants more playing time. And the coach agrees. Then the B says, I won't be here for the next two games. He joked with the B- you ask for more playing time, then you say you aren't going to be here! We were proud of him for taking up for himself and felt like the issue was resolved.
We hit the road for Atlanta and missed the two weekend games. When the B showed for the first game back, we both realized that either the head coach had forgotten the previous conversation, or he just didn't give a flip. So when B took his place on the bench after his only inning playing, I approached the the coach and asked if he remembered the conversation he had with B about playing him more. He looked around as if I must be talking to someone else, then muttered, "I'll work on that." But he only played two out of four innings before the game was called because they were losing by so much.
It was my instinct to call out the coach for being so short sighted or lazy or just plain cruel but since I had a couple of days to think it through (and didn't have the coach's number), I settled down. The B said he would like to quit if the coaches weren't going to play him more and I supported it- he's not having fun and it wouldn't hurt anyone. But I thought he should give them one more chance. Show up for one more game. Give him the benefit of doubt -blah, blah, blah. Deep in my heart, I didn't believe they would but I was trying to fake thinking the best of these folks.
When we arrived on Saturday, we walked in with one of the assistant coaches who saw B but didn't even acknowlege him. Not a good sign. But to my surprise, they played him 4 out of 5 innings. In the outfield, of course, where he saw zero action. But he played.
At game's end, we encouraged B to thank the assistant coach for playing him more. He smiled, embraced him the way most men do only in the context of athletic endeavors, half hugging hugging, half pushing and said, "Aint nuttin against ya. I don't pay attention to all that suff."
Well, I'll take it. You can't write the script for these things.