A lot of people, myself included, are vocal that kids shouldn’t get “participation trophies,” that we should be teaching them you are rewarded for hard work and success, not just showing up.
Well, I want to take it one step further and talk about the “entitled elite” player and what a bad culture we are creating for even the highest level and most talented player. I actually think this is a much bigger issue than any of the “participation” issues today.
For example. Player 1 is a stud. He’s a 15 or 16-year-old sophomore in high school who’s already committed to an SEC baseball powerhouse.
So what does he deal with today?
He deals with multiple companies ranking him the best, talking about how good he is, and constantly reminding him how he’s made it. He “announces” his commitment like Lebron taking his talents to South Beach, and he is then congratulated, retweeted, liked, and shared thousands of times by his peers, coaches, and those same companies. “Congrats Man!” “This kid is a stud!” “He won’t even make it to college, right to the pros.” “Here’s a custom glove/bat, congrats stud!” Etc, etc, etc.
He has 15 travel teams from around the country calling and saying, “Hey, come play for me. We are the best. You’ll play for free, I’ll fly you out here for tournaments. You’ll get 17 sets of uniforms, custom gloves, bats, etc. Our sponsors are the best, and they hook up all of our players!” He is invited to numerous “All-American” games where he and his teammates are treated like celebrities and glorified as if they are a 10-year MLB vets.
Is this all good for the sophomore in high school who has essentially done nothing in his career? How is he supposed to stay humble, think that he has to work harder to accomplish things and truly “make it”?
Yes, coaches (like myself) are part of this problem. This is something I struggle with every day when I talk to players, post about a player, etc. I always worry about humility, entitlement, and making sure I am truly preparing my players to succeed at the next level.
Nothing compares to truly teaching them how hard this process is going to be! For me, getting and developing the talent is the easy part. It making them understand what’s truly important … words like loyalty, humility, appreciation, dedication, and hard work. When you get the scary talented player away from the “entitled elite” player moniker, he’s the one we are probably going to be watching on TV. That’s why I’m starting a new campaign with a very creative name for our players today.
I’m calling it, “SHUT UP. WORK HARDER. PLAY BETTER.” This is a message we all should be preaching to all levels of players, even the elite ones.