#969: Playing by the rules

If there are two things you’ve understood so far about sports in our household, they are:

1) Mama is the main one who’s interested in/knows about sports.
2) Mama’s competitive.

These two conditions, however, don’t mean that I’m enrolling my kids in every sport known to the under-10 set. Quite the opposite, actually. The kids go to a gym programme once a week, at a local centre. They rotate through different sports and games each week, it’s very inclusive (from ages 3 to 17), and it’s highly uncompetitive. So much so that they don’t even learn rules. While all the other conditions sit well with me, this last one, I have to admit, bothers me.

Yes, sometimes we go against the flow, but sometimes we like rules in our house. Rules in sports are important to me. No, I don’t want my kids to learn the rules and keep score so that they’ll play just for the sake of winning. But to play a sport and not understand that you have to do things a certain way, or else it creates chaos and confusion for everyone involved, makes playing the sport a rather futile endeavour. If you’re going to play a sport and not know or care about rules, you might as well just throw a ball aimlessly back and forth for an hour.

On this, the Beloved Husband and I do not agree. He obviously sides with the coordinators of the sports programme, who allow the kids to play with a very minimum understanding of what’s going on. So I’ve tried hard to not throw myself into the mix in an effort to explain to the kids what and why they’re playing. For about two years, I’ve just walked around the track, watching my kids and their peers run around playing their various sports. And this week, when I saw my two darlings run around the bases forward and backward, holding hands while running, playing two to a base, I just grinned and bit my tongue.

Quite unexpectedly, though, the Girl came up to me afterwards, and as we discussed what they had been playing that day, she said, “I wish they’d teach us some more of the rules to baseball.”

“You mean, they don’t?” I asked, feigning surprise.

“Well, they tell us some stuff, but not all. I’d like to learn more.”

I looked at both my kids and said, trying to suppress my delight, “Would you two like to learn the rules of baseball?”

“Yes,” they both replied.

And so it was that we incorporated “The Basic Rules of Baseball” into our schooling lesson today. They both sat and listened carefully, and the Boy even raised his hand like a good student and asked some decent questions. I mean, we didn’t get into “18 Strategies to Win the Game”, or anything like that. But I did explain why two people on the same team can’t share the same base, and why it’s a good idea to not hold hands while running. I mean, I know that they’re loving siblings and all, but c’mon on. This is baseball.

I’m proud and happy that my kids know that sometimes it’s great to play just for fun, and sometimes it’s nice to play by the rules.

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