If your child's teammates don't play nice, make sure to alert coach to nasty behavior


October 15, 2006|By CAL RIPKEN JR.

Editor's note: Today marks the move of the Ask Cal column to the sports section.

DEAR CAL -- We had a tough time this summer with one of the boys on our son's travel baseball team. My son and this kid both played catcher, but my son was the starter. Early in the season, the other boy started making fun of our son. It was relentless. His father and the coach told him a couple of times to knock it off, but the kid kept it up. What made the problem worse was that this boy is popular and the other kids thought it was funny and egged him on. Our son hated it and wanted to quit, but we talked him out of it. Should we have been more assertive in talking to the other boy's parents? Or should we have used the coach as a go-between?

Robin Wyatt, Gahanna, Ohio

DEAR ROBIN -- This problem seems to occur a lot. When kids are faced with not getting a starting position, this behavior comes out as a way to make them feel good about themselves. My advice would be to use the coach as a go-between, monitoring the situation carefully. If that doesn't work, I would have a meeting with the parents as well. Certainly before next year you need to explain to the coach what happened and examine the options for your son to play on another team if that situation arises again. You have a choice before the season, so before the team gets picked and it's too late, make sure the coach is aware.

DEAR CAL -- My son's baseball league gives trophies to all the players at the end of the year. I think it's fine to give trophies to the players on the team that wins the league, but I'm not sure it's a good idea to give them to everyone, whether you win or not. Doesn't this tell the kids that you're entitled to get something regardless of whether you earn it? What do you think?

Steven Ray, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR STEVEN -- I'm not a big proponent of everyone getting a participation trophy. It can create a problem in that everyone starts expecting to get something for nothing. Trophies are designed to reward a great team experience, and if trophies are hard to get - if you really have to earn them - you end up valuing that accomplishment so much more. I'm not a big advocate of just giving out participation trophies to make everyone feel good. If they get a chance to play and feel good while developing as players, then a trophy should not be necessary.

DEAR CAL -- This could be the stupidest question you've ever gotten, but it's causing a real problem for me. My daughter's soccer team's uniforms are kelly green and she absolutely hates the color! She is begging me to ask her coach to trade her to another team. Should I tell her to live with the green jerseys, or is this something I should take seriously?

Kristin Glenn, Baltimore

DEAR KRISTIN -- I've had that same issue with my daughter. She tells me about her feelings in regard to the jersey colors early in the process so that I can negotiate on her behalf. If you haven't played a game yet or it's still early in the season and you are just getting your jerseys, you might be able to orchestrate a "trade" for someone who likes kelly green jerseys. So, try to do some investigative work. Talk to the coaches and find out if there is player on one of the other teams who wants to have a kelly green jersey. In the end, if there are not other options, she's going to have to wear her team's assigned colors. Sometimes when we are a part of a team we have to be able to accept the colors as part of being on that team.

Have a question or issue arising from your involvement in youth sports? Send it by e-mail to askcal@baltimoresun.com.

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