I talked to a friend of mine just prior to finalizing the topic for this week's column and he informed me that his three children are scheduled to be in three different states this weekend for three different baseball tournaments.
My question to him was how he and his wife were going to be at three places at once. Or, at the very least, how was one of them going to be in the third state?
And I'm sure he's not alone. In this day and age, travel teams aren't content competing in the next county and sometimes not even in the next state.
Fortunately, when parents get involved in travel sports, they realize there will be tournaments when they'll be asked to take along an extra player; and it's usually payback for having pawned off their own child to a willing family at some point. It's that willingness that makes travel sports thrive like they do.
But parents need to be considerate when asking another family to take on the extra responsibility of an additional child, especially if the trip involves an overnight stay. Here are some things to keep in mind: Try asking a parent who is going with just one child. In other words, there isn't the added responsibility of supervising siblings, who are often younger and require a lot of attention. Make sure to offer to pay for half the hotel room and half the gas. It is still half the price of what you would have been paying to go with your child on the trip. Send enough money for your child's meals, and I always treated the family hosting my son to dinner on one of the nights. Nothing says thanks like a free meal. Send the proper health insurance information in case a hospital visit is necessary. Hopefully not, but you never know. Touch base frequently with the parent in charge, just in case you need to know something your own child isn't willing to share. Reiterate the importance of near-perfect behavior to your child, and remind the child that if there are any behavior-related issues, the next time you can't attend a tournament, he won't either.
One last reminder: There is nothing wrong with your child missing one tournament if you can't attend and can't make other arrangements. Sometimes other family activities have to be the priority. It's just one of life's lessons, and after all, isn't that what we are trying to teach through youth sports?
Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous websites. Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him @JonBuzby on Twitter.