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AdLib On July - 23 - 2014

softball coaches

Like a Presidential Inauguration, girls’ softball seasons are inaugurated with parades, joy and ceremonies. And like the world of politics, the hope and optimism that launches the season is often invaded by those adults who are driven by their own selfishness.

There are many parallels between a season in a 10 year old girls’ softball league and the world of politics. Whenever there are two or more people involved in anything together, you automatically have politics but when there are many more people involved in a group and the realistic and unrealistic hopes of parents (dads especially) are in play, a remarkable echo of our country’s politics can be witnessed.

The girls are rarely the problem, they may reflect troublesome sensibilities of their parents but for the most part, they are there to play softball, bond with the other girls on the team and hopefully have a great time doing so.

One could however, classify the parents and other adults in political terms.

THE SOFTBALL DEMOCRATS

This political category generally represents the majority of parents on a team, their manager and coaches. Generous, caring, volunteering, fundraising and very supportive of their daughters and the whole team. They gladly help out in practices, bring snacks and treats for the girls and lend an atmosphere of love and pride to the team. They support the entire team 100%.

THE SOFTBALL TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS

They are often the parents of pitchers (some of whom have molded their daughters into difficult to deal with and emotionally fragile prima donnas) and surprisingly, often the parents of lesser-skilled girls. They can be intolerant, selfish and willing to sacrifice what’s best for the team as long as they get the position or “incumbency” (playing time) they want for their daughter. They can be openly prejudiced against other players (especially those that outperform and get more playing time than their daughters) and amazingly self-deluded about reality when it comes to the performance and ability of their daughters. They can be loud, aggressive and compulsively critical of all but themselves and their daughters.

THE SOFTBALL INDEPENDENTS

Rarely contributing with any enthusiasm to the team, sometimes late for practices or games, undependable and minimally supportive in general. They don’t pitch in to help so much but also don’t project negativity onto the team except in a passive way by not being greatly supportive. You’ll often find them texting on their phone or Instagramming on their iPad while the rest of the parents are cheering the most exciting plays in the game.

Of course, the most fascinating group to me are the “Tea Party Republican” parents (perhaps because they cause all the conflict). Just as with their actual namesakes, they live in their own bubble of reality. Where everyone else on the team may see a girl who plays mediocre or poorly, their parents see a superstar who is the best player on the team. If their daughter pitches walks, “Great pitch!” If they strike out, “Great at-bat!” If they make an error in the field, “Great play!” (this really happens!).

When a manager bats the daughters of such parents lower in the order because of their low average or at a less desirable position because they don’t field very well, these parents pound their chest at how they and their superstar daughter are being victimized. This victimhood mentality festers within them until it eventually bursts out in the form of self-justified hostility vented at The Manager, the team or other parents.

After that, for the rest of the season, the political battle lines are drawn. The hostile “Tea Party Republican” parents, banding together or operating independently, mount an ongoing protest against the “Democrats” in office (the manager and coaches) and the status quo, content to damage the whole team in their pursuit to get what they want. And in the cases where they get what they want but their daughter’s lack of skills lead to  losses, they console their daughters that they did everything right and someone else is to blame (Obama?).

Such tough politics can seep into the girls and their play, sometimes they play well despite it and other times it handicaps them and their ability to achieve successes in their games.

In a severe scenario, The Tea Party Republican parents can be willing to threaten a total shutdown of the team by pulling their daughters off of it so there won’t be enough players left to field a team and sometimes they can follow through on it to form their own party…er…team. They may take a great deal of satisfaction at harming or sinking the team they used to be on, uncaring about how they hurt the many girls that used to be their daughters’ friends and teammates (ask Eric Cantor about that).

There is one very important rule though that these Tea Party Republican parents never learn…some people should never be put in charge of anything. To revise the old quote from the movie, Animal House, “Being hostile, selfish and delusional is no way to go through a softball season.”

Now that these Tea Party Republicans have what they want, being in charge of their own team and having the power to push their lesser-skilled daughters into the top positions, they get behind them and promote them aggressively, totally blind to their chances for success and how they can bring the whole team down. Once again, they view their daughters through Tea Party Glasses, everything they do is great and if things don’t work out, it was because the other team didn’t play fair, the umpires were against them or other players on their team undermined their daughters (“She shouldn’t have had to step out of the batter’s box and declare to the crowd that she isn’t a witch!”).

And these Tea Party Republican Parents are prone to getting upset at rules and fair calls that go against them, they view rules as only needing to apply to other parents and the other team in order to benefit them. So they can often be witnessed verbally attacking (“trolling”) umpires when a call is made against their team.

Not all girls softball teams go through this political turmoil, many run smoothly with a minimal degree of politics and a positive and real sense of community (that’s been our experience in most years).

It is enlightening though, how the mixture of people’s emotional needs and competition with others can take the most innocent and altruistic activities and turn them into fierce political conflicts. For parents who see the big picture and recognize that egos should be checked at the door when trying to do something good for a group, softball can be a quite fun and positive experience for girls.

For those who are using it to try to salve their own damaged ego or a stunted sense of self-worth, needing to have their daughters viewed as superior players whether they are or aren’t…softball can be an intense Tea Party Republican primary challenge that touches all of the basest bases.

And that’s foul indeed.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

23 Responses so far.

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  1. Beatlex says:

    We have the same thing here in Canada with minor hockey Adlib.People trying to live vicariously through their children.They are usually people with low self esteem and live frustrated lives

    • AdLib says:

      Beatlex, yes, it is unfortunately a common thing in most kids’ group sports. Soccer is especially notorious for that, one of the key reasons I steered clear of that sport for my daughter (it is a great sport though for kids but the parents can get outrageous).

      Your analysis is spot on, parents with a desperate emotional need to be “winners” and exceptional in their lives but aren’t, seek to get that feeling through their kids.

      It’s like adults going back into middle school, all the pettiness, backstabbing, cliques, howls about of having their feelings hurt…they are grown up 5 year old brats.

      I’m often in disbelief to see such people in glaring denials about reality just to validate their childish emotional needs. Their daughters can have an average of getting out 80% of the time when they bat but it is an outrage that they’re not batting first because no matter what the facts and numbers say, she’s the best hitter on the team…she just is and she doesn’t need a batting average to prove it.

      One can see the connect-the-dots to the Tea Partier way of thinking. You don’t observe reality then make conclusions, you come to a desired conclusion first (that satisfies your emotional needs) then attack and ignore reality and all the facts that might undermine it.

      Oh, and don’t forget to buy the “World’s Greatest Dad!” t-shirt after that.

  2. Nirek says:

    Ad, this article makes me proud of my granddaughter and her parents. She tries hard. She is not the best on the team but not the worst either. Her parents go to the games and help with practices and cheer for all the girls on the team.

    I guess that is proof positive that they are not Tea Potty people, huh?

    • AdLib says:

      Nirek, absolutely! As I mentioned, most parents and grandparents are Democrats when it comes to softball, they are supportive and positive.

      And girls softball isn’t about only the most skilled players beating other teams, it’s about building self-confidence, pride and determination in all players, whatever their skill level.

      Tea Party Softball Parents see the sport as an extension of Ayn Rand selfishness, it’s only about the individual to them…coincidentally, their daughter, and the other players should be self-sufficient…meaning, they should sit by themselves on the bench while their daughter plays the position she wants.

      Too bad there’s not a kind of General Election for softball parents, the majority would vote these extremists out by a landslide.

  3. Kalima says:

    Good Lord AdLib, do you need stress insurance, body armour and ear plugs to play or coach the game?

    So the parents become the spoiled brats who would like nothing better than to resort to spitting, scratching and hair pulling, great role models for their kids. Nothing quite like turning what should be an enjoyable time into personal projections of one upmanship. Feel sorry for the girls who were just there to do their best and enjoy the games. Poor you. 😯

    The political party comparisons were fun, easy to imagine, and spot on.

    Next time, someone should bake some mj-laced cookies and pass them around before the games start. That should fix them. :)

    • Excellent suggestion Kalima. That would definitely take the foul wind from their sails. 😎

    • AdLib says:

      Kalima, there’s nothing more immature than emotionally insecure parents, not even their children. .

      It does add a ridiculous amount of stress to games and practices, for both the coaches and sometimes the girls but when they break their commitments and bail on the team (“What? I’m shocked, shocked to hear Tea Party Republican type softball parents have no principles!”), all of a sudden a tranquility returns to the team and games that seems almost ridiculously pleasant.

      I’ve actually considered whipping up a pan of my famous Prozac Brownies and passing them out to those parents but the idea of giving them anything, even Bird Flu, seems far too kind to do for them.

      • Naw Ad. MJ cookies would be the perfect thing for these antagonistic brats. Of course I mean the parents. They might even become………..nice?

        • AdLib says:

          KT, absolutely, we’re only talking about the parents, the kids are almost always good kids.

          I think it’s a little optimistic to hope they would become nice but at least they might keep themselves busy chasing butterflies and scolding them.

  4. kesmarn says:

    Funny and disturbingly true at the same time, AdLib. I love it!

    It looks as though we can distill the basic principles of Baggers in general from your snapshot of the girls’ softball team here.

    Let’s see:

    Bagger “Truths” (Commonly known as “Lies” in the Land of Reality):

    1. Avoid assuming a role of actual leadership (too much work). Your job is to sit on the back bench and throw bombs.

    2. Your second job is to relentlessly criticize people who do dare to assume responsibility.

    3. Rules are for other people.

    4. The members on your own tribe are always superior to the members of any other tribe. And by “tribe,” we do not mean “team.”

    5. Teamwork and compromise are for losers.

    6. Reality is whatever you say it is.

    7. Pretty much everyone is jealous of you and — hence — out to sabotage you.

    8. Can you bring your six-shooter to these games? (If not, your girls belong in “A League of Their Own.”)

    I think that’s about it. Have I missed anything?

    • AdLib says:

      Wow Kes, what a fantastic job of distilling down all the points I was making and adding in ones I missed. A real home run, Kes!

      What it boils down to for many of the Tea Party types is having the emotional need for their daughters to be seen as exceptional so they can live through their daughter and address their own feelings of insignificance.

      There are many parents though who are realistic about their daughters, some have very talented girls, others have daughters that work hard at skills that don’t come as easy to them. Again, as a whole, it is uplifting to see how most parents are so great at being supportive of the whole team and coaches.

      But those squeaky wheels keep demanding oil and it can make one want to use a hit and run play on them.

      • kesmarn says:

        AdLib, I hear you. When I was still working in the nursing field that was my experience. The vast majority of people were really decent. Surprisingly so — considering that they were sick and often scared.

        But the minority who were stinkers could really leave an indelible impression! And not in a happy way.

        • AdLib says:

          Kes, it is affirming to hear your experience of most people being similarly positive. I do think most people are kind and caring.

          What seems to be the case often in softball is that the parents who cause the most trouble don’t actually have the most talented girls, their daughters are often “conditionally good”. That is, they have some talent which is enough to allow the parent to delude themselves about their ability but substantial limitations that the parent has to ignore and steer around…which makes me think that the aggressiveness these types express is a way of bulling past reality and their daughter’s limitations so they can exclusively focus on what they believe to be their strengths.

          Just like Tea Party Republicans and their candidates!

          • kesmarn says:

            You said it, AdLib! For example — anyone who would say that Sarah Palin is brilliant and spontaneously articulate while Barack Obama is clueless and helpless without a teleprompter is living in some alternate reality.

            Some things really are just objectively either true or false. Both of the above statements are false, to any thinking human. And to believe otherwise is self-delusion.

            I do feel sorry for the girls being raised by TeaParents. When reality hits it’s going to be a hard fall.

  5. SueInCa says:

    Adlib

    You just took me back to the days of my kids playing in Little League. My husband was always either the Manager or a Coach so he saw up close and personal exactly what you are talking about. I always loved the Independents who sat around chatting all through each and every game while I took score and I mean each and every game. Of course the Tea Party parents always questioned how a score was decided….sigh. I was never so happy as when my husband picked a kid that everyone else bypassed and his mother WANTED to be the socrekeeper. Turns out this kid was the number one pitcher in the league, making our daughter number 2. But even though we had the number 1 and two pitchers, we lost the championship game because the umpire was a bagger lol. Even parents on the other team said it was a strike….poor Tony Phipps, he played his heart out and he lost it on a bad call.

    When you get to high school, it gets better. We were fortunate that my daughter had great coaches all through High School. They did not move her up too fast but took their time developing her. In her Senior year she made First Team All DVAL and was first at Shortstop and Pitching voted by all the coaches in the District. She also got MVP. Her coaches made that possible because they took the time to develop her skills and she had the desire to play. High School can be a hole new ball game but it will still be important for the parents in the stands to support the whole team. Lucky for High School coaches, most games start at 3:30 and not many parents are off work at that time LOL. Super analogy. Great post.

    • AdLib says:

      Hey Sue, really enjoyed the experiences you shared!

      Nowadays, The independents are texting on their phones or Instagramming on their iPads throughout the game, even missing their own daughter’s play. It’s not unusual for them to ask who’s winning when the Dem Parents are on the edge of their seats in a nail biter.

      Tea Party Parents try to infiltrate the dugout as coaches the way the political Tea Party types infiltrate school boards and local governments. They have a need to have control and if they ever get it, you can count on them displaying what anarchists they are.

      Umpires are often Tea Partiers, the need for control, the refusal to accept when they are mistaken and the lack of vision.

      It is a relief to hear how much better it gets in High School and quite cool to hear about how talented and successful your daughter became. A real inspiring story I’ve shared with my daughter.

      The parent coaching can be quite a conflict generator and distract from the girls getting the attention they need. Especially the parent coaches who push their daughters into key positions and in the top of the batting order when they are very weak at fielding and hitting. The degree of denial and delusion is fascinating and definitely at the level of Tea Partiers. The rest of the girls on such a team and their parents all see what’s going on but this type of parent coach just resists hearing what they don’t want to hear.

      And don’t get me started on the Machiavellian officers and board members in a softball league. If you want to see Lord of the Flies performed wearing softball hats, check it out! The conniving, power plays, secretive rigging of votes and favoritism shown to those that serve or pander to those “in power” is amazing to watch.

      Corruption always lurks around any organization of people, it is disappointing how often it succeeds in joining a group.

      • SueInCa says:

        Yes, Adlib, tell the Munchkin that it does get better. High School coaches have a winning reputation to strive for so the ones who cannot play are not going to even make the team. You don’t just join the Jr Varsity or Varsity teams, you better be good enough to “make” those teams. There is still some favoritism that goes on but it is normally with the really outstanding players, not the parents who think their kid is a star.

  6. monicaangela says:

    Great analogy AdLib. Yes, softball as politics as just about everything in life tends to wind up becoming cliques. I often wonder if that is a good or a bad thing. There are occasions in our lives where, when we meet a group of people, we simply “click.” These people share similar interests, tell similar jokes and may even look similar. Everyone wants to be understood and liked and these groups of people with similarities, also known as cliques, can really give the feeling of acceptance.

    However, these cliques, which can create a feeling of acceptance for one person, can create a feeling of isolation for another. For some reason, cliques become very exclusive and pretty much defeat the initial purpose of acceptance, because for every person who is in a clique, there are a lot more who are excluded from said clique.

    When we begin to understand politics as what it truly is, maybe we will learn how to counteract undesirable tendencies of some political parties while nurturing the good aspects of these same political groups. “The Tea Party?” Yes, even the Tea Party has to have something good about their party, we just need to admonish the bad, nurture the good, and maybe we can get rid of the problem. :)

    • AdLib says:

      Monicaangela, I think communities are constructive while cliques aren’t for the reasons you describe. Once people build a fence around themselves, no matter how good that security makes them feel, they are fencing out others and themselves from the rest of the world. The deficit to that is losing objectivity, perspective and compassion for others.

      But cliques are so seductive, they make people feel better about themselves for being part of a close and exclusive group…but that sword cuts both ways. One can eventually find themselves on the other side of the fence.

      As a kind of hostile and exclusive clique, I don’t know that I could identify too many positive things about the Tea Party because it is what it is. Inclusive groups have much to appreciate, those built on prejudice and exclusivity seem less equipped to offer positive things to those they exclude.

      • monicaangela says:

        When I look at the Tea Party I see two good things:

        1. They are the most active supporters when it comes to voting in primaries, volunteering on campaigns, and participating in various other activities political parties are reliant upon. This can be a good lesson for those political groups that do not agree with the ideology of the Tea Party and wish to through the political system improve this nation. Participation in government/the political system, economic, civil, the environment or quality of life issues of this country is IMHO a civic duty.

        2. They are destroying the Republican Party from within with their no compromise ideology, and for me, the destruction of the Republican Party is a good thing. LOL !! In all seriousness though, I guess the only good thing one can see when looking at the Tea Party is example number one. :)

  7. MurphTheSurf3 says:

    Isn’t this grand!

    Leave it to you to apply the political meme to a kids game…..but, of course, you are correct…..politics is at play, well, in play.

    Where two or more are gathered in whoevers name, politics is there and political personalities are easy to recognize.

    David Rosen created this list of political peronalities- I imagine you can find names from your extended team of players, managers, coaches, parents, friends to attach to some of these. I was thinking of my church- they are there too. Or my coop. Or my activist groups. ALL of which are liberal and progressive. A progressive totalitarian. You bet.

    The Narcissist. Most politicians have at least some narcissism. After all, you have to have a rather inflated image of yourself to believe you deserve power over the lives of others. But the signs of a narcissistic personality are attention-seeking, grandiosity that verges on exhibitionism, and a tendency to scapegoat when things go wrong. Narcissists are extremely convincing liars, and they are the ultimate users – demanding loyalty from others they seldom give in return. They don’t always make the best decisions, but these highly charismatic personalities generally make the best leaders. Examples: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan.

    The Obsessive Compulsive. These hard-working, conscientious, and ethical personalities are driven by a need for accuracy. Their biographies and professional capabilities usually outshine their personalities. Indeed, their deliberative decision making and love of complexity makes them extraordinarily good at policymaking, but terrible at leading – particularly in a crisis when quick decisions have to be made with limited and often ambiguous information. In addition, obsessive-compulsives typically go to extraordinary lengths to avoid rocking the boat with their actions. Examples: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush.

    The Machiavellian. Machiavellian personalities are master manipulators. They walk into a room and immediately begin sizing people up to identify their interests and exploit their personality weaknesses for personal and political gain. Machiavellians focus on the game more than the outcomes. These cool and calculating types are not generally burdened by the ethical qualms that keep others up at night. Winning is everything; the rest is negotiable. Examples: Karl Rove, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi.

    The Authoritarian. Not to be confused with authoritarian social systems or authoritarian beliefs, the authoritarian personality is quintessentially hierarchical. Authoritarians are sycophantic toward superiors, competitive toward peers, and domineering toward subordinates. They value toughness, believe might makes right, and have contempt for mercy. They also tend to be conservative, sexually prudish, rule-oriented and prejudiced – projecting their own flaws and insecurities onto low-status groups. Examples: Bill O’Reilly, Dick Cheney, John McCain.

    The Paranoid. Secretive and suspicious, paranoid personalities perceive hidden meanings in ordinary things and reject evidence which would disconfirm their conspiratorial intuitions. They harbor doubts about the loyalty of even close confidants, and hold grudges sometimes for decades. Their paranoid fantasies serve an important psychological function: ego inflation. After all, if the world is out to get you, you must be a very important person. The paranoid personality is actually compensation for deep feelings of inferiority, often mixed with anger and resentment. Examples: Richard Nixon, Joseph McCarthy.

    The Totalitarian. Totalitarian personalities are extremely rare in electoral politics because they demand absolute obedience from underlings, believe in their own infallibility, and wield power through a combination of awe, terror, and the gullibility of their supporters. The hallmarks of a totalitarian are a cult of personality, the rejection of facts that contradict goals and fanaticism. Examples: Adolf Hitler, Kim Jong-il.

    http://www.campaignsandelections.com/campaign-insider/426587/the-6-political-personality-types.thtml

    • AdLib says:

      Murph, a great breakdown of the various types of political personalities. What’s fascinating is how few categories are needed for so many people. There are the exceptions to these categories, some politicians who work hard for the people without serving themselves and their own emotional needs but it sure seems that they are a smaller minority.

      Maybe we could also apply football allegories to them? The quarterbacks, the running back, the center and of course, the cheerleaders.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        Remember my e mail about wrestling…..it is actually difficult to make this scheme fit inter-scholastic wrestling.

        Football…oh, yes indeedy.


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