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Let The Kids Be Kids

15 August 2019 Views From The Booth Sports

Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Can you feel it? Yes, it’s still August and there’s surely more sweltering weather to come, but signs of an approaching Fall are everywhere. Kids are headed back to school, and cooler, less-humid weather last weekend reminded us that Friday Night lights will soon be shining.

A snapshot of my Washington Nationals on August 15th shows “the boys” finally reaching the 10 games over .500 mark on the season and holding on the top wild card spot in the National League. The team’s recent bullpen additions and a healing Max Scherzer give hope that the Nats can give us a great stretch run in September. Oh, and please can we get a deal done to secure Anthony Rendon?

I’ve been watching some of ESPN’s Little League Regional and World Series coverage, and I have to admit that I have mixed emotions. Thinking back on my Little League All-Star days, I think most of us who played would have loved to have been on TV. Back then, the only television broadcast of Little League baseball was the LLWS Championship game, which was shown on ABC’s Wide World Of Sports. (Didn’t seem like Taiwan was always playing the USA?)Today, with the so-called “four letter network” having many channels and the need to fill those outlets with programming, even the regional tournaments are getting live coverage.

I’m not sure this is a good thing, and yes, I go back and forth on this. After all, I am the oscillating fan. There is enough pressure put on these kids by parents and coaches, many who live their lives vicariously through their children. When I was playing, I saw teammates brought to tears after games by parents for striking out, making an error, etc. Add the bright lights of TV, and you’ve got a dynamic that can’t be all good.

And the ESPN announcers don’t help, when they compare these kids to major league players, saying things like “look at that swing…a little Javy Baez action!” The kids (who most certainly record the games) then take on the persona of that player, even to the point of adopting his mannerisms, like taking 5 minutes to remove 15 different protective pads and hand them to the base coach.

Back in the day, we certainly emulated out favorite players, too. But that was done in the relative obscurity of sandlots, back yards, and such. TV can turn kids into celebrities at an all-too-young age, and we know how that usually turns out.

There is a classic Twilight Zone episode called “Walking Distance” which hammers home the idea that we only have one childhood, and once it’s gone, we can never recapture it.

ESPN would be well served to revisit that episode and let the kids be kids.

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!


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