Monday, June 13, 2005

Tee-ball and the disappearance of the american male

I know right off the bat (tee-hee, a little t-ball humor) that some of the comments that I make in this post are going to be offensive to some. I agree that there may be valid arguments to support what I am about to talk about. However, I have a bee in my bonnett and I need to air it.

Connor started tee-ball last week. Ah, yes, tee-ball; that great coming-of-age saga that begins and ends in just about eight weeks. That marvel of modern sports that takes randomly skilled children and forces them onto a team with which they practice three times and then PLAY BALL! I think its more for the parents than the kids...but I digress.

Connor's team is, I suppose, not unlike any other team across the nation. There are the steriotypical "challenge" children, the naturally gifted athletic children, the disinterested children, and the average, run of the mill children. My son, much like myself when it comes to any organized sport, falls into the last catagory. He enjoys running and throwing the ball for a little while, but his swing is a's just say, nothing to marvel at. Now, I do believe that with some practice and a little coaching he will greatly improve (I promptly went out and bought him a bat and tee of his own), but one thing about this whole tee-ball thing is kinda annoying to me.

You see, I was under the assumption that tee-ball would be a boys game. I don't believe that girls should be prevented from playing tee-ball or basketball or soccer or hockey or football for that matter. I just never thought of Connor playing on a field with girls. This, however, is not what I am really concerned about, although it may be a commentary on the role of the female in modern society. My main concern is that Connor's coach is a woman. His assistant coach is also a woman.

Look, folks, I'm a married man. I know how incredible the female gender is at everything they put their hands to. My contention is not one of how well they can do the job. I'm sure there is a woman out there that can play circles around me in tee-ball. What grieves me is that my son is playing on his first organized team and his memory (if he has one) of this first experience will be that Coach Lucy (name changed to protect the innocent) was a sweet coach.

The woman really is a nice woman but when it came to really explaining what was going on or allowing the kids to practice, there was very little...well...testosterone. I want some ruggedness to this "boys" game. I want some hustle and bustle and some good old fashioned male leadership. I watched with dismay as some of the other teams practiced. Some teams had two male coaches and were running around the bases yelling the base name and being pushed to run faster, no, no, touch the base when you run by it, get down and stop the ball, hustle!

Our boys and the one girl on our team lined up nicely and approached things in an orderly manner for the most part and gingerly went about their instructed duties. Everything they did was nice and well done, even if it wasn't. When Connor got up to batting practice, he barely swatted the ball with the bat, there was no effort in his swing. All coach could say was, well thats okay - good job. I bounded onto the field to help after watching about 5 minutes. I ran the risk of looking like on of those overly-involved Dads. But let's face it, overly-involved in our culture is simply involved in any other.

I don't want to overblow the gender issue based solely on differences in anatomy. There are plenty of men that I would never want to teach Connor anything. Michael Jackson comes to mind... What I do long for is a world in which men were still leaders. I long for a world in which men took the initiative in teaching, discipling, and mentoring our young, especially the boys. Increasingly we have a generation of boys being raised by the opposite sex. They have mom at home (hopefully), then they have Ms. Andrews at the daycare, and Mrs. Silvia in Sunday School, and Mrs. Smith for choir, and Coach Lucy for tee-ball. On top of all this, they have countless sources of entertainment and media information that tells them its okay to be a girl, even if you're a boy. The issue for me here is not tee-ball, it's not even Coach Lucy, it's male leadership. Godly, firm, confident, male leadership.

I guess my greatest concern for Connor is getting a proper model for manhood and womanhood. If there are no distinctions between gender any longer, then he must have gender roles modeled for him at home and in the church community. Sadly, even these two are sorely out of joint at times. Thank God for His sufficient grace that makes strong in weakness. I pray that Connor would have solid male role models to teach him certain things. I pray that God allows me the privilege to be here for his rearing, that I may provide it for him first and foremost.

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