It’s that season again, time to grab the Spitz, head for some small dot on the map and spend three days camped out on a dusty patch of sweltering dirt.
It’s summer tournament season! I spent the summers of my childhood bouncing back and forth between various western Canadian sports tournaments.
Those were some of the best days of my life, and it was with great excitement that I renewed that passion recently with my first-ever tournament as a parent/coach.
Taking my son to his first tourney, I realized that while a few things have changed since my days on the field, most have stayed the same.
Topping the list of the things that have stayed the same is the fact that no matter what your expectations are heading into a tournament, you realize about halfway through that there’s really only one main goal at an event like this: survival.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list containing bits of wisdom and etiquette gleaned from years spent eating Subway sandwiches on the dry, dry grass of summer. Let’s play ball!
Rule 1: All summer tournaments must be played at temperatures approximating the surface of the sun. No matter how much water you bring, it will be gone before the end of the first game. Pro tip: You will always forget one of your water bottles in a cupholder or under a seat in your car. You can fish this one out as an emergency water supply for Game 2. Just be aware that, sitting in the hot car, the water will now be steam.
Rule 2: One team will be the no-fun team. Several characteristics will clearly mark them as the no-fun team: They will skip the opening ceremony and/or skills competition so they can do a full warm-up for their upcoming game. The coach will get into several disagreements with other coaches and/or the 12-year-old referees. They will bend/break the tournament rules to get more playing time for star players. There’s a 65% chance that the no-fun team will win the tournament. There’s a 100% chance I don’t want to be on the no-fun team.
Rule 3: Someone, at some point, will get a nosebleed.
Rule 4: All participants must ingest one (1) tournament-sanctioned hot dog or one (1) tournament-sanctioned hamburger. The hot dog unit will consist of 65% bun, 15% ketchup, 15% mustard, and 5% meat-style product. The hamburger must, by regulation, have the consistency of slightly warm tarmac. When compared to the dusty trail mix and flattened sandwiches in your gear bag, both the official tournament hot dog and hamburger will taste wonderful.
Rule 5: If it’s an overnight tournament, all parents must sign a waiver. As ambassadors of their city and association, they should limit themselves to eight (8) hotel room rye and gingers.
Rule 6: All conflicts between rival parent groups must be cordially and civilly resolved in the most passive-aggressive way possible.
Rule 7: There must be no fewer than 19 younger brothers and sisters climbing on the bleachers at all times. At some point in the tournament, at least one of the siblings MUST get 1) hit by a bat 2) pegged in the face by a ball or 3) fall off the bleachers. While such incidents are regrettable, tournament officials will NOT supply replacement siblings.
Rule 8: No less than 20% of each day must be spent staring at standings on a white board trying to determine who has the tie-break, what the point differential is and what time your Sunday morning game will be.
Rule 9: No matter how well teams play at the start of the tournament, by the end of three days of non-stop games, all teams will play like hot garbage.
Rule 10: Championship freezies taste the best. And you know what else tastes amazing? Last-place freezies.
That’s my list. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few other important bits of wisdom. Feel free to add your own in the online comments section. See ya at the white board!
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