D.A.D.: Is There a Good Kind of Hate?
When it comes to the ultra-competitive world of youth sports, is there a line that shouldn't be crossed?
Earlier this week Jason Bernstein over at the Star Ledger had a really great story on the baseball rivalry between Central and Mendham.
Sports coverage is a frustrating thing for us here at Patch, we simply don't have the resources to cover it as we would like and are always so pleased when parents, coaches, players and fans submit material to us. We would love to have a stronger sports pillar and hope our communities pitch in.
So we are always happy to link out and comment on material we see other publications have because they do a good job in places we can't.
In this particular piece, West Morris Central's Connor Young described the rivalry between West Morris and Mendham as "the good type of hatred, that all of our guys have."
This got me to thinking (And don't think I am picking on Connor because his quote echoes those I have heard over the course of my career and even down to my own time playing youth sports). Is there such a thing as a "good type of hatred" in sports?
When I was growing up, I was never that kind of kid. I played on soccer teams and basketball teams and was pretty terrible. I saw those ultra competitive kids and their overly aggressive fathers screaming at volunteer refs and being chided by other parents.
When I was in high school and playing football for the Mount Olive Marauders (whose once-in-a-generation 9-7 victory over Mendham in 1995 literally changed our world for a few weeks) we were trained to hate the other team.
That was part of the sport. That was part of the drill.
My wife, who was a basketball standout for Wallkill Valley was trained to hate Sparta. And Pope John.
And now, as I watch my little girl squeal with delight when we pass kids playing softball or lacrosse I realize that all too soon she is going to be indoctrinated into this culture.
And I am not totally sure I am comfortable with that.
Is it ok to be told to "hate" the other team? Should you want to see them, not only lose, but be dismantled?
Or has the age of hyper-political correctness made me too sensitive.
I don't know. And I hate that I don't know.
I am interested in your experiences with the youth sports culture and the "good kind of hate". And I hope you will share it in the comments below.
I’m a sports guy. I love sports. Playing them. Watching them. Talking about them.
And it’s not just because they’re fun or because human nature’s competitive spirit can have an outlet, but because there’s more to it than just what happens on the field.
It’s the rivalries, and the “no love loss here” attitude that brings passion to the game.
As Russ mentioned, students view Central and Mendham as rivals in any sport, any day of the week. It’s just how it is.
But for kids, when does it go too far?
For whatever reason, I keep thinking of the “Karate Kid” when this topic comes up. Members of the Cobra Kai Dojo hated the kid from out of town, Daniel Larusso. In the movie, they’re portrayed as high school students. Just like the example we’re referring to.
Of course, as in most movies, good defeats evil, we all finish too much popcorn and don’t realize the corny-ness of the flick until a couple days later.
But in real life, that doesn’t always happen. And that’s what stinks about raising kids.
I could take care of my own on the playing field, whether it was organized sports or playground basketball. And just about everyone else I played with could, too. There was always a mutual respect.
But what’s going on now? Have we polarized the kids that much? Like Russ said, with so much hyper-political correctness, are my sons heading into a passion-less game, where everyone wins and players seemingly become indifferent toward competition?
Or will my peers who were pushed too hard as young athletes pass that teaching down to their children, who will likely play alongside my sons?
Is it time for me to worry, even before the boys are of age to take the field? Will they be involved in the “good kind of hate” or be exposed to hate in general?
Let us know what’s going on out there, and thanks for your comments.