Grounding player is parents' decision

ASK CAL

Youth sports

September 16, 2007|By CAL RIPKEN JR.

DEAR CAL -- I coach an elite softball team of 13-year-old girls. Recently we were in a tournament in South Texas and one of our key players did not play because she was being disciplined by her parents. I respect the right of the parents to do what they think is right to teach their daughter. But in this case, their decision to use softball - or deny their daughter the privilege of playing softball - cost the team the tournament. What are your thoughts about this type of punishment for a kid when it ultimately affects other kids, too?

Dale Bachelor, Austin, Texas

DEAR DALE -- This is a difficult question for me to answer completely without knowing what the daughter did to deserve being disciplined. And, to be honest, it's not really anybody's business other than the parents and their child. It's really not my place to tell people how they should discipline their own children. All people have methods they are comfortable with. Sometimes when it comes to athletics, we lose sight of the age group with which we are dealing.

Though the situation involves what you call an "elite softball team," these are 13-year-old girls. Although it's nice to win, that shouldn't necessarily be the ultimate goal for that age group. There are a lot of things more important in life than winning a youth softball tournament.

My guess is that in the view of the player's parents, their child's actions were serious enough that the best way for them to teach her a life lesson was to take away something she loves. In this case, that was softball. It's hard for any outsider to judge whether that was the proper way for the parents to handle the situation, and I don't think it's necessarily fair for you to say that it cost your team the tournament.

When it comes to competitive athletics, there are no sure things.

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

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