Instilling a Love of Baseball in Kids
Many of us feel that baseball is the greatest game on earth. The rumors of the death of baseball have been greatly exaggerated. Fans young and old can agree that there is something magical about a lazy June afternoon and a game seven in October.
So how can we get our kids to share our love for America’s pastime? While there is no way to simply tell children how great baseball is and make them agree, there are many ways to demonstrate our own passion with the hopes that they will follow in our footsteps.
Take me out to the Ball Game
50 inch high definition televisions are a blessing and a curse. Yes, I can see every seam of the ball before it is thrown. Yes, the “K zone” tells us whether or not that pitch painted the corner. Yes, Joe Buck’s head really is that big.
What the TV experience cannot do is give the audience the feel for the game. There is nothing like going to the ballpark and watching major league baseball. It is a fantastic mix of a family outing with a legitimate, world classic exhibition of talent. Taking kids to baseball games is the simplest, easiest, and most effective way of sowing the seeds of baseball love.
For families without the ability to attend a major league game, most areas of the country will have some form of professional or collegiate squad. For young children, a 400 foot home run is a 400 foot home run regardless of who hits it. Take them out to the ball game, buy some cotton candy, and enjoy.
Teaching Kids About Baseball
Baseball is not a simple game. The intricacies of every pitch are difficult to appreciate without a fundamental understanding of the rules. While explaining the rules may not seem like a great way to capture the imagination of a young fan, you might be surprised at how well kids latch on to complex concepts when they are presented in an interesting way.
For example, learning how to keep score can actually be quite fun. Even young children who are not yet able to read fully can begin by tracking runners around the bases. This also helps kids familiarize themselves with the position names as well as the players on your favorite team(s). This might not be step one, but it certainly is a fun way to get a child involved with the nuances of the game.
Sharing Baseball Stories with Kids
There is one thing almost every former athlete has in common: we love telling stories about the glory days. A home run we hit over the highway, that time Grandpa Bill struck out Mike Schmidt in high school, or maybe just that time you almost swallowed your gum rounding third! At the end of the day, simply telling kids how much you love baseball is not nearly as effective as telling them colorful stories about the game. Young children are very adept at picking up on our emotions, and that includes passion for a sport. Rather than asking your child to watch baseball with you like it’s a chore, show them how much you enjoy the game.
What if my Child Doesn’t Like Sports?
Then they don’t like sports! Being a sports fan is not for everyone, nor is participating in team sports. It is also important that kids change as they grow up. If your son or daughter has no interest in baseball at age six, there is no telling whether he or she will develop a passion for the game later in life. Similarly, another kid who loves baseball as a youngster might grow in a different direction as they age.
No matter what the case, it is important to respect a child’s likes and dislikes when it comes to recreational activities. Exercise and building healthy peer relationships are both extremely important, but there are multiple ways of accomplishing those goals. This can become a grey area when you feel a child is shying away from sports for a specific reason. “Bad” reasons for avoiding baseball might be that a child feels inadequate or is scared to play with other kids. Where some children might benefit from a nudge out the door, others may shut down completely if forced to participate in an activity they despise. It is up to parents and caregivers to decide what is best for a child in these tricky situations.
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