Today my 6 year old son had his very first little league baseball practice. It was a 2 hour practice that shockingly, was rather intense. Pitching, hitting, running, pitching, hitting, running, running, running, and more running. I was pleasantly surprised to see that persistent running was part of the practice schedule. My son Joshua, however…was not so pleasantly surprised. I think in his 6 year old mind he was thinking that he would put on a uniform, a cool looking cap, have a ball thrown at him and then MAGICALLY, he would hit a home run and be drafted to the majors.
I watched as he was yelled at to run “along the fence line” and to “NOT CUT THROUGH THE FIELD.” I secretly laughed as he flailed his arms and through his head back as if he were running the last mile of the Boston Marathon. When it was his turn to practice batting, the coach wouldn’t let him swing at the ball until he had the correct stance and correct bat angle. I watched as he became frustrated when all he wanted to do was swing the bat, but the coach kept telling him to wait until the stance was accurate. For two hours, twelve 6 year old’s met on a field for what I would call, “A very intense basics block.”
After practice, with an exhausted and worn out 6 year old in the back seat of my car, I asked him what he thought.
“It was really fun, except for that running part. I don’t like that at all!” With the emphasis I must add on “…at all.”
I responded with the typical parental comeback…
“Well Josh, if you want to be good, then you have to learn to love the fundamentals. Running is a big part of baseball and staying in shape.”
He seemed virtually unmoved by my attempt at a motivational speech and yet I couldn’t just stop there. Just like with my colorguards, I found myself lecturing my son on the importance of basics and even resorted to saying that all sports require a strong understanding of fundamentals and athletes who strive to be in the best shape possible. I then compared colorguard to the sport of baseball as I said that colorgaurds run too and that’s when all hell broke loose in my little red Toyota Corolla, where the ages long question of “sport or art” was finally resolved.
“Mama…colorguard is NOT a sport.”
OH MY GOD! He did not just say that. My son. The child who made the WGI video at the ripe old age of one year old. The child whose due date for entrance to the world was on the night of World Finals. The child who has walked on the Dayton arena floor more than most performers in their entire careers, and the child whose first words were, “again.” YET…he said it anyway.
I refrained from pulling the car over and asking him to get out and walk and calmly asked him why colorguard wasn’t a sport. He gave me six answers. It’s amazing how at the age of 6, he was able to actually rationalize his answer. (Thank you ESPN)
1. “They don’t wear helmets or caps.”
(I guess he missed the picture of me in my 1987 high school guard uniform with the teardrop hat and big bow tied to it)
2. “It isn’t in the Olympics.”
He went on to rationalize that I teach “winter guard” and the winter Olympics is on and “winter guard” isn’t in it. (Now…he has a point on this one. However, I would hardly classify Curling as a sport either. I mean…what is that!)
3. “Daddy doesn’t watch it on the t.v.”
(Lies! Yes he does…when mama makes him watch the Fan Network)
4. “The coaches yell in sports.”
(Ummm…what! I do believe he’s seen me instruct before regionals and nationals. Where does he think he learned the phrase, “Stop dropping now!”)
5. “There are no umpires.”
He was pretty emphatic about this one. I can see his point. From the viewpoint of a six year old, there isn’t a guy wearing stripes running up and down the floor with the guard blowing a whistle every time a performer drops (although that would be kind of fun), however I promptly lectured him on the insights of judging and quickly set him straight.
(and this was my favorite)
6. “Because in colorguard girls cry.”
That’s what he said. His exact words. “Because in colorguard girls cry.” Of course my mind immediately jumped to Tom Hanks and the infamous line, “There’s no crying in baseball.” I of course asked him if crying was bad and he said, “you told the guard not to cry and to suck it up.” Shit! I did say that didn’t I? Now, I thought he had me on this one, until I thought of my brilliant, yet witty retort. I was not going to be out smarted by a 6 year old on his first day of baseball.
I thought about it for a minute and then gave him 6 good reasons that directly compared colorguard to baseball and in essence, proved once and for all that colorguard is truly a sport.
- “In colorguard basics are everything. Just like in baseball, you aren’t successful unless you have a good fundamental program behind you.Remember when the coach wouldn’t let you hit the ball until your stance was correct? Well, we don’t let the guard toss until they are taught the exact same thing.”
- “Guard kids run, too! You can’t build stamina unless you run and without stamina you can’t get through the show.” I asked him how many rehearsals he has seen the performers run and his answer, “A lot.” (There you go…I’m going to win this kid!)
- “Because guards have referees too, we just call them judges and sometimes the judges can be meaner than NFL referees.”
- “Sometimes the boys cry in baseball and football, too. Remember how excited we got when Tim Tebow cried after the SEC Championship game?”
- “Because we practice more than you did today. How long do we practice Josh?” (He didn’t answer as he knew I was winning)
- “Because dropping the rifle is the worst thing you can do. Now tell me Josh, what did the coach say today about the ball?”
“He said that we better never give him an excuse for dropping the ball.”
“…and what else did he say?”
“He said that dropping the ball was bad and that he would yell at us if we dropped the ball.”
“And what does mommy do when the rifle line drops?”
“You yell at them and make them do it again.”
AND THE WINNER IS…
Mommy! Check and Mate my friend!!
I asked him one last time if colorguard was a sport like baseball and his answer…
“Can we go to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal?”
So there you have it. Colorguard is a sport as evidenced by the silenced 6 year old in the back seat of the Toyota and if you ever need to defend it to some troglodyte who refuses to believe that spinning a flag isn’t as taxing, technical, competitive, exhausting, athletic, passionate, or aggressive as any other sport, then just ask my 6 year old to help you out, as I’m sure after today will never see colorguard the same again.