DEAR ABBY: I have five children and am neither an overbearing nor overly protective mother. After reading Michelle Klein's code of conduct for children's sporting events, I have a few comments and suggestions for coaches.
Our youngest son is 10. He was adopted from an overseas orphanage. We took him knowing he had some physical challenges. Last year, I asked a tenderhearted baseball coach to place him on a team with younger players. He played all season and did fine.
This year, my request was disregarded. My son is now on a team with other 10-year-old boys. He is not only struggling as a player, but his self-esteem is in the cellar.
Every week, his coach prints out each player's batting average, number of doubles, triples, home runs and strike-outs. (My son averages nine strike-outs and zero runs.) After some sleepless nights, I told the coach how damaging and humiliating this is for my son. I explained again about his two eye surgeries and other disabilities.
The coach said that baseball is all about statistics, and my son's self-esteem problem was mine to deal with. He said he's been coaching for 12 years (his son is the No. 1 player), and he was not going to change. My instinct is to pull my son out of the league, but I know that would only make him feel worse.
So, Abby, this being said, I urge coaches to keep in mind these two additional suggestions for the code of conduct:
(1) Please don't have children run laps for a lack of talent. It is counterproductive for building the skill they lack. (After running laps, my son was so tired he struck out again, and had to run laps again!)
(2) Please leave your misdirected hormones, ego and military style at home and remember you are coaching children -- and this is a GAME! -- PROUD OF MY SON IN WASHINGTON
DEAR PROUD: Your son's coach is so focused on winning that he has lost sight of the fact that children's sports are supposed to teach them sportsmanship and a love of the game.
Talk to the parents of your son's teammates. It's possible that you can find allies. Together you might be able to convince the board that hired the coach to dismiss him. If that's not possible, rather than allowing your son to be humiliated, consider taking him out of baseball for a year and involving him in another activity he will enjoy and at which he can excel.
P.S. I agree with you that making a child run laps as a punishment is counterproductive. Depending on the child's health, it could also be damaging or even fatal.