Why I don't watch the Little League World Series
The great thing about this job, and the fact that my "work" is basically watching sports and giving an opinion on those events, is that I love being a sports fan. I have been a sports fan since I was a kid. A love of sports, both playing and watching, is something that many of us are just born with. To make a living at it is an added bonus, especially when you don't have the gift of exceptional athletic skill, which is why I am a broadcaster!
But when I say I love watching sports, I draw a line with youth sports. Yes, it is my yearly rant about the Little League World Series!
Look, I get it. The raw emotion, a once in a lifetime opportunity for these kids, probably the pinnacle of their athletic "careers." But why do YOU care if your kid isn’t playing? Why do we get excited about watching a 12 year old hit a 200 foot home run? Yes, there is tradition, and the name Williamsport is synonymous with this big global event. But to me, the Little League World Series is a culmination of everything that is wrong with youth sports. Before there was the psycho soccer mom, basketball dad, or softball parent we had the biggest, baddest and most dangerous of all parental species: the Little League Parent. The LLP has actually taken a back seat in recent years to the monsters mentioned above. The soccer mom who is convinced her seven year old daughter is the next Christine Sinclair. Watch her on the sidelines at the game, barking at the 14 year old referee and pissed off at the volunteer coach who won’t let her kid play forward the entire game of a blowout so she can score three more goals in a 15-2 blowout.
The softball mom/dad is equally as dangerous. That parent convinces the other parents on the team that every kid needs to have a matching bat bag, with a $100 bat inside. The softball parent keeps score and goes home to input the numbers into a spread sheet so they have updated batting averages and stats by the next morning.
How irrelevant is this event? Think about this. Murrayhill is the first Oregon team to advance to Williamsport since 1958. I think the baseball played in this state at the youth level must be pretty good though. Didn’t the most recent College World Series winner feature mostly Oregon-born players? But yet, none of them played in the Little League World Series, BEFORE they reached puberty.
I don’t know any of the parents from Murrayhill, and even though it is Oregon, I have no emotional tie to the team. It is much the same as I couldn’t care less when Oregon and SW Washington select soccer teams or AAU basketball teams play for a championship. If it were my kids, I would care. If not, point me to the part of the sports section that gives me more on the Oregon and Oregon State football scrimmages and the latest Blazer trade rumor. Heck, give me more information on who will replace Sinclair at Portland instead of LLWS recaps.
My point is simple. Let the kids play. Let your kids play. Let them play as many sports as they want, if they want, and they will enjoy sports so much more, both as participants and as spectators. There is a time and a place for elevated competition and select and premier teams. But that time should be after puberty, as they become young men and women and they are old enough to decide how serious they want to take their respective sports, and if they want to specialize in one sport. I may be in the minority in this area, but I will not be watching the so-called action from Williamsport, the 65 mile and hour fastballs, the 12 year old ruining his arm by throwing breaking balls, and the mammoth 200 foot home runs. Tonight I am going to PGE Park to watch the next stars of major league baseball, the guy who is one phone call away from San Diego or Seattle. I will watch the same up and comers with the Portland WinterHawks next season, or the best basketball has to offer with the NBA.
I will watch youth sports, my kids games, but not your kids games. That is something you should enjoy.
We will talk about this today on the show, 3-7 on 1080 The Fan and at www.1080thefan.com