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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Keep Little League Little
Friday, August 25, 2006

Every year it gets bigger and bigger and every year it disturbs me more and more. The Little League World Series has become a huge cash cow for ABC and ESPN and it just isn’t right. Games are televised on a daily basis and advertisers give the kids involved their first taste of major league baseball by shoving as many commercials in-between innings as possible. The kids are told to play their hearts out, towns put unfair pressure on them with extensive coverage in local papers that give the overall feeling that a group of thirteen year olds somehow represent the town, and the worst part of it all is that the kids, the people actually playing the games, will get nothing out of it other than the same life lessons they would have received had the games not been televised at all.

Putting the Little League World Series on television might seem like a great idea to the parents, who can now brag to their friends about their “future superstar” who’s been on television, but the only good part about it for that “future superstar” is that with a bigger stage to play on his parents can no longer be heard screaming at the umpire during every ball and strike call. Honored by the bigger stage? Don’t be. Advertisers are raking in millions thanks to this yearly pimping of children and the kids don’t get to see a dime of it. In fact, if they DO find a way to see a dime of it they won’t be allowed to play college, or even high school, baseball because accepting money for an athletic endeavor makes you a “professional.”

If you need any more proof that televising this event is a horrible idea just imagine the producer in the truck at the end of a game that’s telling his people “look at that kid crying, get a camera on him, we need that reaction shot.” This is exactly what happens, and remember, these aren’t paid professional athletes we’re talking about, these are kids who just wanted to have some fun playing baseball. Every time you see a kid cry on camera it’s because somewhere there is a producer wanting to get that particular moment on television, a moment that the kid never wants to remember, but some tubby half-wit who’s never played the game in his life feels would “make great television.”

With all of these things swirling around what’s supposed to be a summer activity for kids it’s no wonder we see cheaters every year. Teams bring in ringers, older kids who still look young, to shut the other teams down. Controversies that never would have happened had the television cameras been left at home are suddenly front page headlines in national newspapers. It’s time to play the role of Pink Floyd and “leave those kids alone.” Let kids be kids. Kids don’t need television cameras around them to feel like they’re doing something, they just need their parents, or a parent, to say “good job.” Remember, they’re kids. Heck, a good percentage of them are only doing this because their parents are forcing them to in a blatant attempt to re-capture a past glory that never really was. So world-wide television coverage or a simple “good job,” which do you think the kids would rather have?

Personally, I never played Little League Baseball, but I have been involved in athletic endeavors all my life thanks to the martial arts. You know what, I have never felt like any of my accomplishments were worth less because they weren’t on television. Winning feels great, losing sucks. Being a good sport is important. These are lessons kids should learn, especially with schools no longer letting kids fail classes because “it may hurt their feelings,” but they’re all lessons that can be learned in the privacy of one’s own hometown stadium, arena, or even backyard. I know we live in a society where bigger is always considered better and anything that CEO’s can find a way to generate revenue from will be exploited for just that purpose, but the first word in Little League is LITTLE. Keep it small, keep big money out of it, keep it for the kids, keep Little League little.

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