Does it matter where children play?

We received an update from the parent who had asked our opinion about the “jerk” who was coaching her 7 year-old son and not giving everyone equal playing time, (read the original post). We are copying her email, and then our response below. Come on, coaches. Let the little guys all play equally!

I wanted to follow-up and let you know that my husband did say something to the coach. He waited until the third game when he was given the line-up and there were kids scheduled to be on the bench for the third game in a row before three of the boys had been on the bench at all. The coach got super defensive, but my husband just told him he couldn’t be part of breaking the rules.  Given that our kid isn’t a kid who has been on the bench a lot – it was difficult to question our motives.
Hopefully that fixes the playing time issue. We have decided we aren’t going to say anything about the positions – honestly, I am not really sure if it matters where 7 and 8 year olds are playing as long as they get to play.
Thanks again for your input – nice to bounce a sticky situation off of someone who doesn’t know any of the characters.

Our response:

Thanks for the update and I’m glad your husband spoke up. One thing I would disagree with is the importance of where 7 and 8 year-olds play. There is a reason that leagues put a rule into effect about rotating kids into various positions as well. When a kid at that age is relegated to left field every game, two things happen, both of them bad: First, he’s being told in no uncertain terms the coach doesn’t think he’s any good. Next, as you know, at this age, nearly every ball hit is to the infield. Baseball is already a slow-moving and boring game to youngsters. A child playing nothing but outfield might go an entire season and only have a couple balls hit to him all year. Both of these things, (being made to feel you’re no good and being bored all game) may very well lead to children giving up baseball entirely. In my league, with 7 and 8’s we even took it another step and applied fairness to the batting order. There was one order, all season, and it picked up where it left off each new game. In other words, if at the end of the game the #4 hitter was the last batter, then next game the #5 hitter hit first and continued from there. This way every player would get the same number of at-bats throughout the year. I would encourage your husband to stand up for the little boys who are never getting the chance to play infield because it would be a real shame if this guy is the reason some don’t come back next year.

Thanks again for getting back to me and good luck with your boys’ baseball.