I try not to watch. As I said with in a previous post – I think the Little League World Series is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. But my son likes to watch, so it was on – the coverage is pervasive across the ESPN networks this time of year.
So far, a coach failed to comply with the mandatory playing time rules and I saw a 13-year old from the Hawaiian team with a bat flip after a home run that would have made Joey Bautista proud. To my thinking, despite the goodness of Little League, the Little League World Series – and all the national attention it brings on 11-13 year-olds, is more bad and ugly than good.
Proponents point out that Little League Baseball is one of the last bastions of recreational baseball that is an alternative to the travel and select baseball machine. Little League is affordable, has mandatory playing time rules, and has mandatory pitch counts. I applaud all of that. The H&A philosophy stands for positive experiences for youth in sports. The affordability offers broader accessibility than travel teams. Mandatory pitch count limits are in line with keeping the game safe for kids. And, although my philosophy would go further to try to ensure the players play an equal amount, mandatory minimum playing time is a start.
However, the pitch counts lead some Little League managers to find exploitative strategies that might not be the best in terms of sportsmanship . And even when coaches follow the mandatory minimum playing time rules, they may still discourage kids from wanting to play again.
So, I will likely watch more of the coverage – it is the biggest thing in youth sports right now. I just think maybe it’s too big. What do you think?