My Son Hates Baseball

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“Dad, I don’t think I like baseball and I don’t want to play anymore.”

Except for Will saying he doesn’t love me or that he’s become a New York sports fan, nothing uttered from my 6-year-old’s lips stings as much as my boy — my oldest son — telling me he doesn’t want to partake in America’s pastime. My father’s pastime. My pastime.

And the first thing that ran through my head was “How can I raise a kid who doesn’t like baseball?”

It’s really no surprise, especially when you watch him play. Will actually has a good arm and he can hit, but he’s never had the same interest in baseball that he has with soccer and basketball. The game is too slow for him. Too boring. He doesn’t see the point in any of it, and he’s much happier as the proverbial daisy picker in the outfield, or using a stick to do a Pablo Picasso impression in the infield dirt.

I almost had to pull him off the practice field last week because he refused to pay attention and was almost hit by the ball a few times.

But I don’t care that he’s not good at baseball. I wasn’t very good at baseball either, and I harbor no delusions of grandeur that Will is going to be the next Dustin Pedroia. But I did LOVE it as a kid, mainly because my dad preached the gospel of Red Sox baseball early and often and I was transfixed. So I played tee ball, instructional league, all stars, and up to jv in high school.

But even when I wasn’t playing I was watching with my dad and going to games. No matter how angsty my teen years got, my dad and I still had baseball. And even last year, when we fulfilled a dream by attending a World Series game together, it was magical. Baseball is a bond — and an important one at that.

It scares me to think I won’t have that with Will. And it hurts that he hates something I love so much.

My oldest son perplexes me, probably because he’s so much like his mother. He clearly favors individual endeavors while I loved team sports. He often prefers solitude while I’m gregarious by nature. He can take or leave sports, and I live and breathe them. And while I know all parents struggle at times to find common ground with their kids, I always thought I’d have baseball (and sports) as a safety net.

I tried to keep my cool and refrain from judgment when I talked to him. We talked about how he thinks the game is boring, how it’s not as fun for him as swimming and cooking. And how he just doesn’t have fun when he’s playing.

So then I asked him why he wanted to sign up if he didn’t really like it, and that’s when he dropped the hammer.

“Because I wanted to make you happy, dad.”

Will is smart. And kind. And beautiful. I don’t really understand him and so far I don’t share many of his interests, but that’s OK. I don’t have to. Because HE is my interest, and it’s my job to support him any way I can.

I told him he’s finishing this season, because quitting is never a good idea. After that, we’re putting him back in swim lessons and signing him up for cooking classes. We’re also fostering his love of animals this summer with a few weeks of camp at the zoo. Because while I do believe parents should intervene and make kids try lots of different things, at a certain point you can’t force them to like it just because you do. And I think we hit that point with baseball.

Our kids will not follow in our footsteps or be what we thought they’d be. The universe laughs at the paths we imagine for our children, and then watches as they pave their own way. Freshly cut grass under the summer sun and dirt-stained uniforms were the essence of my youth. But my youth is (long) gone. Now it’s time to let Will start choosing his own paths, and enjoying the places they lead.

And I realized baseball isn’t really the bond that holds fathers and sons together. Love, patience, and unwavering support is what matters. I can’t hit the ball out of Fenway, but I can let my kid know I’ll be there rooting him on at every turn no matter what he’s doing.

Plus, he’s still young. There’s still time for baseball to work its magic… 😉

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14 thoughts on “My Son Hates Baseball

  1. Parents can learn as much from their kids as their kids can from them; you have not failed in any way if he doesn’t like what you do. Have you tried maybe indulging in his interests with him as well? I recall you guys having great bonding time over fishing, maybe try letting him show YOU why he’s interested in what he is interested in a lot more? Besides the fact that kids look/are so happy when they talk about what they’re passionate about, you may find that you’re interested in the things he is as well! And if not, oh well, Will still loves you regardless!

  2. My best mate’s son played rugby league for 2 seasons before he told his dad that he hated the game. The thing was, my mate was a brilliant league player from the age of 6 through to 17 when he had a major injury which sidelined him up until the game where the talent scouts for the professional league started coming to recruit, and he had lost his flair. I think he hoped he could live vicariously through his son, but that wasn’t to be. He now supports his kid’s love of soccer.

  3. He’ll like it next week. Then he’ll hate it. Then he’ll settle into a lifelong love-hate relationship with it, just like every Red Sox fan.

  4. Softball was my sport and the Tigers were my team. (Sorry!) My sisters and I all played it, my dad coached it, and we have great memories from the old Tiger Stadium. So when my stepson (who is now 19) turned out to detest sports, it definitely took a mind shift. But now that I have a six-year-old daughter who has tried a variety of activities, I can see why your son wouldn’t really like baseball yet. My daughter is in the same boat. She played t-ball last year on a team for 5 & 6 year olds. There really wasn’t much for them to do, because the ball rarely came to them. And I spent my time cringing about all the near beanballs to the head, because nobody was paying attention. For a while this winter, she said she didn’t want to play t-ball this summer. But at the last minute, she changed her mind. So I’d say good on ya for being willing to let your son follow his own path. But don’t give up hope that he may grow into the sport of baseball, when the kids have a little more skill and can understand more of the strategy of the game.

  5. Aaron,
    I have two daughters and I am a baseball fanatic (grew up in NY but NO I don’t like the Yankees!) Anyway, my daughters had little to zero interest in baseball. But as they went to games with me, saw me watching games on TV, their interest started to pick up. One day my youngest daughter shocked me. I came home from work and she was watching a game on TV and exuberantly exclaimed “they have bases loaded with one out in the 8th inning. They’re down by two runs!” What? Is this the same daughter I had a year ago? So to date, she still enjoys baseball, but not sure what brought about the change. So there’s still hope (LOL)! Go Red Sox!

  6. I think you are doing the right thing by asking him to stick out the season. A good lesson for him. It’s tough when your kids don’t like the same things as you, but you have to let them be themselves. There is also a good chance he’ll come back to the game if he has no pressure to do so. Baseball is boring sometimes for kids because they are not thinking about the games nuances, or anticipating plays and it’s a tougher game to play than soccer (which I could never get into!).
    One ofmy daughters was never into baseball as I was, but she married a man who is, and now she loves it!

  7. My son absolutely loved baseball and played it from T-ball to junior high. He was actually very good out on the field and he could hit the ball too but he wasn’t a power hitter like some of the boys. He was at the point where he had to try out for the junior high team instead of little league. He didn’t make it and he was crushed! I’d never seen him so upset. He never tried out again after that. He wants to focus more on football now. Locally, there are a lot of politics involved with baseball and it’s no secret about why some of the boys were picked and others were not and it’s sad.

  8. My nine – year – old, pretty average baseball player decided to retire this year. He’s just not into it anymore. Truth be told, I imagined him growing up to be every bit the baseball addict that his parents are. Instead, we got a science-obsessed, comic book- collecting drummer who would rather make stop motion films with his Star Wars action figures than play ball with his friends. I had never watched Star Wars or read a comic before my son came into my life, but I rather enjoy both because they’re important to him. Meanwhile, I freeze my ass off at the hockey rink every weekend because my three – year – old has spent every available moment flying around on hockey skates since he was 18 months old. Kids are funny like that.
    Kudos on not letting your son quit baseball before the season ends. That alone will ensure that the season isn’t a total loss.

  9. My 6 year old suffered from (2) successive years of poor coaching. I do not say this lightly. His first year (T-Ball) the coach was new to the area, a divorced female (the only female T-Ball coach in the league) with a female assistant “partner”, had personal issues, missed a number of games, cancelled others, cancelled every practice, and generally paid minimal attention to the players while in the field. My son was (typically) one of the dirt kicking, flower picking, twirling, wandering lost sheep on the field. His batting was awful and his enthusiasm nowhere to be found. While frustrated, I kept any comments to myself and encouraged him to stick it out through the end of the season. After that season (and after missing the last game) the coach moved away. (Thank you!)… NOTE: the other T-Ball teams made ours look like daycare. Fielding, throwing, battling…. organized practices… you name it… as expected for well coached T-Ball level kids. My son’s team had a couple good players, but mostly was a disorganized mess.

    This Spring to our surprise, my son stated he’d like to do baseball again. Ok, we sign him up. “Coach Pitch.” Another female coach (the only one in the league.. yet again.)… I noted this pattern and swallowed my words to keep open-mindedness a chance… Afterall, this woman knew the game and was no rookie. Why not?

    Needless to say, the attention span of my son was null. He had little interest in the game and the coach had little interest in motivational coaching. My son despised any form of practice… had little interest in playing catch, hated batting in the back yard, and continued the 2% attention in the games. The coach spent a lot of time in the field standing still focusing on the batter while my son, 4 feet away in the outfield zoned out into la-la land…. Son paying no attention to the game, coach paying no attention to my son. Few words of encouragement could be heard from the coach, and when they were they were not very loud not very enthusiastic or energetic. Other (male) coaches were genuine alphas. Loud, encouraging, advice giving, focused, hands-on, active and involved. The final game of the season was today and the opposing team was a sight to behold. These kids had it going on and the coaches were clearly responsible for making them what they were. Our coach stood out in the field, quietly observing her flock, with an occaisional finger point toward home plate and a soft-spoken “pay attention”… My son only half-obliged. He did manage to chase down 3 or 4 balls, the most he has ever done… his batting was atrocious, but he did it without complaint or embarrassment…. I commented to my wife (not yelling, just speaking) that my son would likely have benefitted from one of the apha male coaches (the opposing team had 2) who really commanded authority, energy and positive enthusiasm (and enough encouragement and support for a small army) and was overheard by the coach, (female)… the female coach made a snide comment that “maybe I should volunteer to coach next year!”… after the game I calmly clarified my reasoning, with as much respect as I could possibly produce, and was met with absolute anger, hostility, cussing, yelling and sexist accusations. The more I remained calm and respectful the worse it got. She demanded I apologize, which at that point I was not about to do. I thanked her calmly at the end of our “dialog” and left. Likely never to return.

    My son despises baseball. After the last (2) seasons with the coaches he has been stuck with, I can imagine I would also. I went into this with zero opinion about female little league coaches. (When I say zero I mean zero)… today I can say from experience, they cannot replace a solid male coach. Perhaps its the estrogen vs testosterone? I have no idea. Something is different and I do not think it worked well with my son. He views women as motherly. He views men as fatherly and authoritative. Women are soothing and nurturing. This seems to have worked against him in baseball. We do not expect him to return next year.

  10. Be parents we always want something better for our children. But sometimes our thinking opposed to them, so in this case I usually give them what them like to play. It better than forced them. Don’t worry Aaron. He will play baseball in the future like you said because he was too young, I think .

  11. This was very helpful. This year before spring had come my son prepared us and told us he didn’t want to play anymore. He is eight years old …what does he know right? Well after trying to persuade,bribe and badger we decided to let it go. The thought of not being the dugout mom and his father no longer assisting withcoaching made us both pretty sad. I read tons of blogs about how important it is to be a part of a team but when they’re old enough to verbalize their likes and dislikes then you know it’s time to pull the plug and find a new interest. The spring is going to seem a little less fun but we’re also hoping after a year to mature he’ll get back in it. The kid has a crazy rocket arm but lacking in other areas. Here’s hoping for next year! Thanks for sharing.

  12. My son has also preferred solo sports (wrestling, karate, tennis) to team sports. I hated baseball growing up. I tried little league, and had a decent enough coach. I wasn’t very good – I couldn’t hit, couldn’t throw, and couldn’t catch. For me, baseball was a showcase of my incompetence and an place where I got yelled at by my teammates, and my coach got exasperated. I really truly hated it. Plus, it seemed to me that everyone else seemingly was born being able to play excellently. (I know now that this wasn’t the case). I played one season and that was enough. I was also very small for my age, and suffered similar indignities when I tried football. I discovered soccer in high school and loved it. I didn’t have to be a freak of nature to enjoy the sport. I wasn’t very good at that, either, but I did have fun with it.

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