Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash Vol. XXVII: An anti-tattoo manifesto, letting kids be kids, and playing the deaf card

Matt, my son’s batting average dropped a little this year. Do you think it’s from my son catching way too many games, or his overbearing father explaining to him how to hit?  Please consult. – Patrick Hilboldt

I hate to sound like one of those New P.E. drips, since I’ve personally taken great pains to discredit them. You didn’t specify whether your son is a Little-Leaguer or playing high school ball. But that doesn’t really matter. For what is he playing? A game. I used to play children’s games too, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (Google that, it’s biblical.)

Now, I no longer play baseball and basketball and football, unless I’m throwing the ball around with my own sons in the yard or shooting hoops in the driveway. Nor do I even push them that hard to play organized sports, since they are non-joiners by nature (a characteristic I prize above namby-pamby notions such as playing by the rules and teamwork). Sports provide both discipline and memorable experiences, plus they’re fun, and so are worth it for those reasons alone. I played them a lot when I was a kid, and they served their purpose during my chidlhood. But in the long run, did they really equip me for the game of life? I’m fairly certain that your son’s batting average dropping a few points doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the adult games which lie before him, games like cheating on his taxes, sabotaging his co-workers, and acing his siblings out of inheritance money. So ease up on him a bit.

The trick to being a good hitter, like the trick to anything, is to play loose and to not overthink it. (Also, steroids don’t hurt.) But if your son knows his old man is in the stands, hyper-scrutinizing his every move, he’s going to tighten up, and that will adversely affect his hitting. So maybe bite your tongue, and let him have fun while there’s still fun to have. I want you to tell him – and you can quote me on this – to hold on to sixteen, as long as he can. Changes come around real soon, make us women and men.