Being a captain is hard. You sign up, find someone to co-captain with – wonder if this is going to be like the prototypical group work settings you’re used to from your school days, or whether you’ll really be able to get along and get a group of guys that you know you can enjoy the summer with. For some that have done this before, you’ve already found the person you know you can work with – or you’re related to them so you figure it’ll be fine anyway. Nevertheless you come together and work on what your plan for the draft is going to be.
The plan never goes as you expect, maybe the team drafting ahead of you picks one of your relatives, or doesn’t really know what they’re doing and all of sudden that great plan that you’ve put together is gone. So now you have a team, you’re still excited, this is your team – you picked them. You and your co-captain are ready to make this a season that is going to be fun, competitive, and with a little bit of luck, maybe a championship worthy season.
You create a WhatsApp group, invite everyone. Introduce everyone to each other and tell them that you’re excited and want to make sure everyone gets better throughout the season. One person seems like he’s not really paying attention or has their own agenda, or maybe they just signed up to play and aren’t really interested in all this practice you’re talking about.
It’s ok, it’s just one person, maybe the rest of the team will help get them excited and keep them engaged. So then you schedule your first practice – you’ve called around to get a diamond, you have your equipment together, you have a basic practice plan you want to run through. So you put the question out to the team – “Who can make practice this week”.
And then, the thing you fear happens, a steady string of…
Alright, so practice didn’t work, maybe you can get your money back for the diamond, but how is this team going to get better if we don’t practice. Let’s see how everyone plays in the first game of the season and then maybe things are better than you think.
Like clockwork you get a message at the start of the week.
“Can everyone please let us know whether you’re going to need reserves or not”
You login to team snap to check the status of your team, and this is the image that awaits you
The worst part about this image is not that there are 2 people not attending, life happens, we all understand that. The worst part is that there are 5 people that have yet to respond. So you’re left wondering – are we going to need reserves? are we going to have to forfeit? what’s going on with our team?
Somehow through begging people everyday to answer you get enough commitment that you can play and not need any reserves, that commitment comes just the day before you’re supposed to play. You breathe a long sigh of relief, but at the same time you’re wondering why it took to less than 24 hours before to get an answer.
Nevertheless, game day arrives. You’ve asked everyone to show up 30 minutes before so we can get ready as a team. 30 minutes before arrives, there are 4 of you. You wait 15 minutes, there are 5 of you. It’s 5 minutes before game time, there are 6 of you. It’s game time…”can we borrow a catcher?”. Now it’s 10 minutes after game time, players 7, 8 and 9 finally arrive. You play, you lose, everyone gathers around and says “we should have won that one….”
You’re ready to lose your mind…and then you wait and do it all over again next week. Week after week because you made a commitment, you swear to yourself by mid-season “I’m never doing this captain thing again”.
While the above story may seem like a piece of fiction to many of you, it’s actually all true and happens far too often. Being a captain is challenging, and we as players are not making it easy for our captains to be successful. As a result, like in the story, we’re at risk of losing many of them after this season. Which means that we may end up going back to having less teams, and we may also open registration up only to those players that are able to commit to a full season. These are difficult choices that are currently being weighed – we hope we don’t have to make any of them.
What you can do to help
- Communicate with your captain
- Let them know what is going on. Whether that means you won’t have an answer by X day because of something
- Answer teamsnap – go right now, answer every single game – don’t know whether you’ll be available put “Maybe”. No answer is the worst thing to see
- Don’t make them chase you, just answer and let them know what is going on
- Show up early
- To games, to practices, to everything – it’s much easier to coordinate when all your players have arrived
- Can’t make it early – see point 1
- Offer to help
- Help run a station in practice
- Help clean up
- Help set up
- Offer to be a captain next year
- Help chase other members on your team
It’s painful that we had to write this type of post, but more often than not it feels like our captains are being taken advantage of and if we want to continue to have a league we can all enjoy, it’s time we stepped up and helped them. At the end of the day we all want to enjoy and have fun, let’s not take away that joy from them.