Although 11-year-old Mark wasn’t much of an athlete, his dad urged him to play youth baseball. Mark liked to play, but he was hurt by the remarks of teammates and spectators whenever he struck out or dropped a ball. Just before the fourth game of the season, Mark told his dad he didn’t want to go. “I’m no good,” he said, “and everyone knows it.”
His father urged him to stick with it. “Just do your best,” he said. “That’s all anyone can ask. Your best is good enough.”
Mark struck out his first two times at bat, and each time looked over to his father, who struggled to look positive. In his last at-bat, Mark hit the ball solidly, the first time all season. It was a hard grounder to third, and the play at first was close.
When the umpire called Mark out, his father went wild. “Kill the ump!” he yelled. “Are you blind or just stupid? If you can’t do the job, stay off the field!”
On the way home, Mark broke a long silence, “Dad, you said all anyone can ask for is to do his best.”
“That’s right, Son,” his father assured him. “You did your best, and I’m proud of you. But that jerk of an umpire robbed you with a bad call.”
“I wasn’t talking about me,” Mark replied, “I was talking about Billy’s dad. He was the umpire. He was doing his best, but you got mad at him.”
His father was taken aback, but he said, “Yeah, but he’s an adult. We should expect more out of adults.”
Mark looked his dad in the eye. “That’s what I thought, too. By the way, I was out.”
Despite his father’s good intentions, he didn’t set a good example. We should expect more from adults – more fairness and respect, more sportsmanship and more self-restraint. If your kids play sports, be a model, not a problem.
CHARACTER COUNTS! project, he has conducted programs for more than 100,000 leaders in government, business, education, sports, law enforcement, journalism, law, and the military. Mr. Josephson is also an award-winning radio commentator.
This article was published by the Josephson Institute.