Monday, July 18, 2005

Is a T-Ball game worth a broken body?

(We'll get back to the The Great Sports Radio Face-Off tomorrow. This story broke over the weekend, and it's sickened me enough that I have to bring it up.)

Youth sports coaches are supposed to teach kids how to play the game. Teach them what it means to be a "good sport". In many cases, youth coaches often have to take the role of surrogate father.

I'm thankful for some of the coaches I've had: Coach Saenz and Coach Vandewalle, my youth basketball coaches, Coach Schmidt and Coach Warren, my freshman football coaches, Coach Craig, my JV football coach. While I never had the talent to make it in sports, these guys helped me appreciate the games I played and contributed to my understanding of sports. Thankfully, however, they always kept sports in perspective.

Somewhere along the way, our organized youth sports have become less about teaching and having fun, and more about wins and losses. Coaches are under pressure to win. Parents look to their kids to fulfill their star dreams. Shoe companies are scouting the playgrounds and ball fields for the next big star. Things have just gotten out of perspective.

Want proof? On Friday, a Pittsburgh coach was charged with paying his star player $25 dollars to assault an autistic teammate so the coach wouldn't have to play him according to league rules that stated that everyone got playing time.

The kid was autistic. The fact that the coach went after a disabled kid is just absolutely barbaric. There is NO T-Ball game important enough for a coach to take out an autistic child! NONE!

(Sorry, I have ADHD and things like this hit close to home for me.)

Sadly, this is a symptom of suburban baseball. Kids in the suburbs who dream of an athletic career, and the parents who push them, increasingly see baseball as the only way to fulfill their dreams, because it's one of the few sports where they feel they don't have to compete with the inner city kids.

And yes, the competitive pressure starts at the Little League level. Little League coaches push their kids to throw curve balls at age 12, years before a boy's arm is ready to handle the strain, because they need to show that they can win.

It's one thing for college sports and pro sports to be competitive. Those athletes are adults, legally capable of making their own decisions, and they chose to be there. Youth sports shouldn't be about competition.

It especially shouldn't be about beating up autistic kids to make a team more competitive.

(Hat tip: Message Board)

For those who said Tiger was in a slump...
(David Cannon/Getty Images)

So to everyone who said Tiger was on the downside of his career...

Would you like that crow blackened, sautéed, or grilled and over pasta with alfredo sauce?

Tomorrow: Mid-Morning Radio

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