Monday, August 21, 2006

Caring a lot

A rite of spring for me each year for the past 10 years or so has been to coach youth baseball in Baltimore. As my two sons - now 15 and 18 - passed from the post-toddler to early high-school stages of their careers, I've been at the helm of the Barons, Mustangs, Jets and Giants of our local league.

I've always been surprised - and somewhat startled - at how much I care about these games. I don't say this with any sense of pride. In fact, there have been numerous times when I've caught myself pacing in front of the bench, felt my heart racing, and wondered: what's up with this? How could I possibly care so much about a game involving 9-year-olds?

I've considered all the standard answers. I enjoy baseball, having played Little League and in high school. I relish the time spent with my children and those of my neighbors and friends. And there are the less flatterin g explanations, too. As a middle-age, balding, suburbia-living male, I'm living vicariously through the deeds of these spunky elementary school players.

None of these explanations seemed to fully explain my elevated blood pressure, or have been satisfying to me. Nor do they begin to explain the more extreme behavior of many adults who have taken their commitment to youth sports to levels far beyond mine.

As a sports journalist, I was fortunate to have an outlet for my musings and curiosities. I began writing magazine articles about youth sports. In time, I landed a contract to write a book on the subject, and have begun the research.

I would be eager to hear stories from adults about adults who care deeply about youth sports. Let's share. Why do you care so much? Do you know others whose caring has become problematic for themselves or others? What is it that we as adults are seeking from youth sports?

These are some of my thoughts and questions today. How about yours? Drop me a note here or at

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