Dear Athletic Support: My son is 3 years old, and for some reason my wife and I decided to let him play tee ball this past summer. I’m not trying to throw my wife under the bus here (okay, maybe I am), but this was mostly her idea. She thought it would be fun for him to be around some other kids and learn the basics of baseball. In hindsight, I don’t think he had much fun at all, and I know for a fact he didn’t learn anything about baseball. The coach stuck him so far back in right field I oftentimes confused him with the foul pole. To make matters worse, all my son did for most of the season was chase butterflies! I’m not sure if we started him playing too young, or if my son is destined to be a butterfly chaser. What are your thoughts on 3-year-old tee ball? — Chasing Butterflies and Toddlers
Dear Butterflies and Toddlers: “A butterfly chaser” is a new term for me. Back in the locker rooms of my past, we referred to a less-than-stellar athlete as a “scrub” or a “N.A.R.P” (non-athletic regular person). If we were feeling extra descriptive, we might even say, “That guy couldn’t play dead in a Western!”
Now, this was back in my playing days, not after I became a coach. And it should go without saying, such name calling is not conducive to the overall chemistry of a team, or the building up of young athletes.
The same is true for your little tike.
You are right in thinking that 3 is far too young for organized sports. In fact, I would ONLY be concerned if your kiddo weren’t bouncing around the outfield chasing flying bugs.
If you and your wife decide to let him play again next year, be sure to offer your sincerest support. Make tee ball extra fun. Go for ice cream after the games. But whatever you do, please don’t call him a “butterfly chaser.” That is, unless he plans to pursue a career in lepidopterology.
A Call For Questions: Over the summer I was able to expand this column to 19 new newspapers across Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. That sort of growth wouldn’t have been possible without quality questions.
This is an “advice” column, and that means, week in and week out, I am fully dependent upon you and any questions you are kind enough to send in.
To put it bluntly, “Athletic Support” would not exist without you.
So please, if you read and enjoy this column, take a few minutes to shoot me a question (or two!) at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the “Contact” page on elicranor.com. All questions are published anonymously.
One final thought: I know parenting is a very personal endeavor, but this column exists as a safe place where you can voice your concerns and hopefully get some guidance along the way.
I’ll never claim to have all the answers. All I can hope to do is offer an unbiased opinion, a possible solution to a sports-related issue you might have struggled with in the past.
Heck, it doesn’t even have to be your problem. If you’ve overheard a family member, or a friend talking about their kids — tell me about it.
Thank you so much for your support. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to email@example.com or visit elicranor.com.