I like to read up on articles about youth sports, and while searching for new posts there is a good chance I’ll come across a “Please Remember” sign like this one:
There are all sorts of variations. Yankees for baseball leagues, Blackhawks for hockey leagues, Patriots for football leagues. Pretty much all of these signs are meant to be humorous reminders of a serious issue – that we are watching little kids playing a game. These signs are helpful because they cut to the core of a major problem in youth sports across the United States. The problem, as I see it, is not watching a youth game in context.
I love competition, but I don’t always want competition. Sometimes cooperation works just as well or better for a given task. The benefit of any youth team sport is that players learn how to cooperate on a team while competing against other players. Ideally in an environment that does not discount the importance of one in favor of the other. The playful signs I’ve run into work because we all get the joke. We’ve all lost our cool at a youth game. It happens from time to time, and that is okay. What is not okay is always losing your cool game after game, weekend after weekend, and season after season. The sign helps because we all get the joke, but I think the sign would hold a lot more power if another sign was posted next to it detailing the opposite behavior that gets all the press.
Here is a sign similar to the first one above:
And here is the sign I created with the opposite message:
The sign I created sounds ridiculous. The “Please Remember” rules are clearly untrue and not grounded in any kind of reality, but we can all lose our minds a little bit in a one goal U13 game after three earlier games in the summer heat. Humor tends to diffuse situations, and I encourage everyone out in youth programs around the country gearing up for summer ball to kindly approach the folks who might be suffering from the early symptoms of heat exhaustion. Offer them an ice pop, and remind them to follow the good sign and not the bad one.