Little League…Small People:

baseball field

I don’t know how these things work in ya’ll’s neck of the woods but in my community the Little League teams are being severely dimminished by the proliferation of “select” pay to play teams that are springing up in ever greater numbers. Just a few years ago if your boys or girls wanted to play baseball you signed them up for local Little League and it was off to the races. Parents volunteered for coaching and umpiring duties, teams were drafted, a regular season was followed by a season ending tournament, then all-star selection and regional playoffs for these teams. Lessons were learned in sportsmanship. In how to behave when things were and were not going your way. They even learned a little about playing baseball as an added bonus.  April through July. Seems like plenty of opportunity for one and all no? Apparently not.

At some point a parent or coach felt slighted or a victim of small town politics and decided that they would start a team of their own. Pretty soon a sufficient number of petulent adults who had never learned the lessons referred to above did the same and they had enough teams to form a league.  Great right? Competition and all that. As American as, well…baseball. Since the teams were spread out over a much greater geographical area than the local Little League, much more time would have to be devoted to attending tournaments against the other teams. To compensate for this the coaches and umpires who had been providing their services gratis in Little League determined that they should be paid for said duties. Thus was born the pay for play “select” league for twelve and thirteen year olds. Your probably asking yourself, what kind of idiot could be talked into paying 1,000 bucks for something they can get for free by going down to the local ballpark and signing up for Little League? The kind of idiot of course who is susceptible to the appeal to vanity and the certain knowledge that their precious spawn is sure to be the next A-Rod if only he gets the proper instruction that only “paid” coaching can provide. It doesn’t seem to dawn on these geniuses that said “paid” coaches were providing their expertise for free just a year earlier and for whatever reasons couldn’t hack even that.

At first it didn’t have too much of an effect on the local leagues except for draining off most of the really gifted players who’s parents were especially susceptible to the “this might be just the edge he needs to get that scholarship” angle. After awhile however, every parent who had a beef with the league or thought that their delicate flower wasn’t getting enough respect (translated as playing time) transferred to the new league until this year there were  only FOUR teams in our local  Babe Ruth league for thirteen year olds. It seems that whenever adults get overly envolved in what is a childs endeavor, it invariably goes FUBAR in very short order.

I’m thinking of starting my own sand lot league next year using old second hand equipment with nobody over the age of thirteen allowed within 100 yards of the field. If it goes well I think I can charge admission and maybe rent binoculars to view the distant games. Yeah…that’s the ticket! With the low overhead, I think I could make some real money…

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13 responses to “Little League…Small People:

  1. Start your own kids only league and you’ll be branded a pedophile before the first practice. Charge for it and they’ll call you a child pornographer. You simply cannot win.

  2. It’s not just the money, which I would be more likely to spend on math tutoring or such if I was so inclined, but the insane time devoted to these select leagues. These peoples lives revolve around their childrens sports “careers”. Both my boys have played Little League baseball since they were toddlers but they play because they love it, not because it helps daddy relive his glory years of boinking Mary Sue out behind the Home-Ec portable.

  3. ” It seems that whenever adults get overly envolved in what is a childs endeavor, it invariably goes FUBAR in very short order.”

    Sounds like the Pierce County 4H Horse Department. One of my daughters said it best when she stated “4H would be fun if it weren’t for the adults.”

    Once upon a time, youth activities were just that. Youth activities. It seems anymore that they exist for the parents who need to live vicariously throught their children, or for the adults whose children have grown and left, but they can’t leave the little empire that they’ve created.

  4. I was just kiddin on the sandlot league. Hundred yards away…binoculars…nevermind.
    When I played little league the only time we saw an adult was on game day and of course the coaches. We would ride our bikes to practice, in full gear for football, play like hell and ride home. Somtimes they would ask how it went but honestly they had their own adult stuff going on most of the time. If I was to whine about not playing enough my dad would have probably given me a withering look and said something along the lines of toughen up, play harder. The thought of hiring a private coach would have been laughable.

  5. I used to coach a 10 year-old basketball team (a friend’s kid was on it). I was single, no kids. I would show up early to the games (because I am early to everything I do) and sit alone in the bleachers. I KNOW there were parents there wondering just what in the hell I was doing there, thinking the worst.

  6. I was talking to my 12 year old about half way through this season and out of nowhere he says “my assistant coach is a pedophile”. I say “what the hell are you talking about” and he tells me that his coach slaps some of the kids on the butt when coming off of the field. I had to sit him down and give a serious ‘look at me and listen God damn it” talk on what the word pedophile means and why it is not ever to be used lightly or in a joking manner. This is what anyone who works around kids is up against these days. It’s a real shame.

  7. THE CHILD TRAP
    The rise of overparenting.
    by Joan Acocella

    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2008/11/17/081117crbo_books_acocella

    Some interesting reading suggestions for dealing with the little brutes.

  8. Interesting article. It is a penomenon that seems to afflict every socio-economic demographic these days. My neighborhood is pretty blue collar yey they are every bit as hovering in their desire to give their kid the edge he needs to make the high school team or get a scholarship as is the more affluent parent in preparing clildren for the Ivy League from pre-school.
    Strange.

  9. Sheesh, I should check my spelling a little more carefully before hitting submit. I Blame my parents for lack of getting me the proper tutoring!

  10. I think it speaks to the generally anxiety of the age.

    We have more of everything than anyone else on earth. Our borders are secure. Most of us enjoy great opportunity.

    And yet it isn’t enough. And I sense a fear and unease out of proportion to the admittedly real problems we do face. The bifurcated manner in which every problem is couched in language designed to assign the purest of motives to one side and the darkest of intent to the other.

    My 1-3/4 cents worth.

  11. I never knew I had it so good. My parents never showed up at any choral recitlals, soccer games or anything else I was into. They were just glad I wasn’t in the house driving them crazy. I am going to do my best to pass this legacy on to my children.

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