Play Ball!

There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family, and baseball.  The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. 

— Al Gallagher

Now that baseball season is upon us it is time to rethink our national past-time. Gone but not forgotten are the days when families went to the ballparks to really enjoy watching their children play America ‘s game. Baseball, hotdogs and mom’s apple pie were the order of the day. Blankets spread out on the grass, picnic baskets loaded with food and beverage, and the snack trailer parked nearby waiting for each game to end was the norm. In our hurried lives we have taken perhaps a step backwards and not all for the better.

It is not too late to turn things around. On your next visit out to watch your child play baseball or softball consider these little tips: Have plenty of cold beverages, lots of healthy snacks, a camera, perhaps a video camera (remember to collect as much video on your children as possible; they will be 18 soon and you’ll need something to embarrass them in front of their friends with) and lots of praise. Yes, lots of praise. Whether your child is 5 years old or 17 years old, always give praise.

While your child is playing give them praise. After the game give them praise and at home again give them praise. Make the outing about enjoying watching them play, and not about any improvements they may need. Let them know how much you enjoyed watching and that you can’t wait to do again.

Now lets touch on baseball sportsmanship. Be a role model for your children. Clap and cheer for everything they do and do the same for the other team. Yes, cheer and applaud for the other team. What a concept, actually cheering for both teams and enjoying the game. It really is just a matter of attitude. Going in with the perspective that we are all here to have fun makes all the difference. This also sends a clear message to our children that it is ok to just have fun. No more “hey batter, batter…swing” and other comments made to detract from play. Instead we can teach our children that it is about having fun.

The summer heat will be coming as well. A few quick pointers: have plenty of cold water around for drinking, have children drink half a cup every 15 minutes whether they are thirsty or not, and take a break from the heat of the sun often. Once a child or an adult feels thirsty it is an indication that they are dehydrated. It could take up to 3 more hours to re-hydrate once they start, so keep drinking fluids and avoid dehydration. Snacking on fruit slices helps with nutrients but be careful about hydrating with carbonated drinks and lots of fruit. Water and/or sports drinks will provide better relief.

Before long the family picnic atmosphere will return. Children playing, parents cheering, and smiles all across the park. Yes, baseball season is back and lets go out there and have fun. And don’t forget to ask your child if they had fun? Play Ball!