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Thursday, March 28, 2013



I loved sports as a kid.  We played football and basketball.  We played several variations of baseball; stickball, whiffle ball, punch ball, step ball and garage-wall ball.  We played tag.  We had running races, plus we raced anything on wheels. 

There was no adult supervision. 

There were no arguments.

Rules were clear such as “Tie goes to the runner,” and if there was a dispute, “Call it, odds or evens…one, two, three…shoot.”

We kept score, but if a game was uneven we would switch players, or adjust the rules, “OK you guys get five downs, and we get only three.”

Most games came down to “Next touchdown wins” or “I call last licks.”  Basketball was first one to twenty wins.  When a game was over we would play one more game with player or rule changes to make the game equal.  Baseball – “You have to bat lefty to make it even.”

Basketball – “You can’t shoot a layup, and we get winners outs.”

Football – “You have to run at least twice, and Jimmy can’t pass.”

We would play until mom rang a bell, or the street lights came on.

I never played a sport with adult supervision until the eighth grade.

Eighth grade is when I remember arguments and lopsided scores.

When my own children were growing up all the sports from soccer at five years old through twelve year old Little League baseball were supervised by adults.  Fair play and good sportsmanship were stressed, and then the dads would choose up teams. 

The dads would scout all the kids; ask their own kids who were the best players, and then plot to select the best team.  I sat in on several of these team choosing sessions and I never heard one dad step up and say, “You know what Frank, you are weak on pitching, I’ll give you Jimmy Klein, for little Bobby Wagner, that should make the teams more fair.”   NEVER HAPPENED! 

Happened all the time when it was just us kids.

Adults mean well, but they just mess stuff up.  I think that from five years old to eleven, adults should provide the fields, the equipment, and then get out of the way.  Mix the ages up so there are some older kids to instruct the younger kids in rules and sportsmanship.  Let the kids keep score.  Let the kids pick the teams.  Let the kids make the rules.  Let the kids play.

I dislike watching a game and hearing a dad race out to an umpire screaming, “Are you crazy, he was safe by a mile,” or “You have got to be kidding he caught that ball out of bounds.”

I would love to hear once again disputes solved the way they should be resolved by kids:

“ODDS…one…two…three SHOOT!  He’s safe…Let’s play.”


  1. Amen!

    That will happen when there's no money to be made.

  2. I think Skip's right. I grew up the same way as you. Sports was fun until the adults got involved.

  3. Kids resolve disputes quickly because the objective is to get back to playing as soon as possible. Adults just want to be right and win the game. It's a shame.

  4. So agree - adults just spoil everything

  5. Well? I turned 70 this morning and I'm feeling pretty persnickety ... I found your blog off Lo's. an inspiration!

    We would have died of humiliation of our parents got involved with our games ... you are absolutely right on ... we settled our own stuff.

    I had a child late in life ~ 42 ~ and I could NOT believe the adults! good lord! one Dad told his son he would pay him ... I forget the amount ... if he beat my son.

    We found this out through the kid! This was on swim team ... they were on other Little League teams as well ... everything from soccer to football and baseball and my son's favorite ~ basketball.

    The adults were embarrassing. unbelievable.

    My main game was jacks... we girls could reeeeally get into some 'disagreemens' about jacks. IT DID TOO GO IN ...

    oh, lol... I think I just might ... reckon they still make jacks? loved that game ~

    I just might start being more cranky ~ yeah

  6. I remember when our son played Little League and so many of the parents were obnoxious beyond belief. You're right--just let the kids play.

  7. Oh, man! This brought back so many great memories! I was a total tom boy. We lived near a dead end, and all us neighborhood kids would play baseball in the streets until the street lights came on. No arguments, just lots of laughter and "tie goes to the runner" stuff! Loved this post!

  8. I agree totally. It would seem in the cases like this, the kids are the better adults!
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

  9. You could sell t-shirts with that "Adults mean well but they mess things up" I'll get one.

  10. Thanks for the memories Cranky. We played whatever sport wherever we found the space to play it. School playgrounds weren't fenced in and we knew we had to be home by sundown. Life was good then.

  11. What a great suggestion! Both of my boys play baseball, The HS is fairly civilized but those little league parents - look out!! Thanks for your support regarding my tacky scrunchies ;)

  12. I'm with you Joe. My son plays soccer in the under 9's at what I love about it right now is that we don't keep score. It's all about encouragement, learning, fun and a sense of team. And he is a good player my son. We could easily scout out a team and a competition where he'd be playing for some sort of championship medal and actually win it. But right now the companionship and the "looking out for each other" is more important to us as a family.
    Great post.
    I will share it on my Deep Fried Fruit Facebook page later today.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  13. Great post Cranky.

    Hey....I just had an ephaniny....why don't we give all the adults the boot and put kids in charge of Congress? :)


  14. Wait! You forgot to mention do-overs.

  15. You make a good point. In my house, my husband and I often resolve things with scissors, paper, rock.
    There's no messing with those outcomes.

  16. There's some messing with those outcomes, keepingup. Someone always starts whining about how paper wrapping around rock is ridiculous, and a rock could totally shred through a paper. At least in my neighborhood someone did.

  17. Grown ups always ruin everything that's fun!

  18. I just love hearing about how kids would play out in the neighborhood all day, with all ages, until the street lights came on. That's how it was for me, too, in the 70's and early 80's. But now? I don't know, things are just different. Kids play inside a lot, on video games. Getting them to go outside is almost impossible. I will give my kids the boot and tell them to go play outside...and they will come back in ten minutes saying that no one in the neighborhood wants to play outside. Either that, or they are not allowed to play outside without an adult watching them. Things have changed. It's a shame.

  19. and when kids pick the teams every kid always plays..and when adults pick the teams their son is the only one that always plays, even if he stinks.

  20. I'm 55 - old enough to enjoy all those fond memories you speak of.

    I'm all for competition, but when did it become brutal. When did this great nation of ours begin to see winning and being first as the only way; and pitying others as less.

    It seems that way with everything - college acceptance, report card grades, job positions, etc.

    Bittersweet post... however, I chose the sweetness. :)

  21. I've got another award for you over at my blog if you want it.