2001-09-08 / Sports

Ode To The A: The Little League Edition by Elio Velez

Ode To The A: The Little League Edition by Elio Velez

Did you hear the joke about what was one of the signs that Danny Almonte was really 14? He dedicated his season to his wife and kids. Ha- Ha, funny for some but this isn’t a laughing matter.

We know who caused the crime of lying to the Little League, parents and the public. Rolando Paulino, founder of the little league and Danny’s father are the criminals for lying. The victims are not the parents of other Little League teams or the adults who run the Little League. The victims are the youngsters. One of the victims is Danny Almonte. Even if he is 12 or 14, the incident will scar him for a long time and hopefully the right people will reach out to him to help him through it. The other members of the team will also be scrutinized and hammered for playing with Almonte. Could they handle the numerous questions by kids and adults asking if they knew that Almonte was 14?

In this case, the experience of becoming media darlings in a slow August sports’ month is just another trend of sports’ sickening desire to win. What sportsmanship was there when reports that parents from a Staten Island team who lost to Rolando Paulino, hired private detectives to investigate Almonte? Some adults teach their 11 or 12 year olds how to throw curveballs, sliders and even knuckleballs to gain an advantage. Even if the kids get sore shoulders later on in their teens, doesn’t it concern parents that their child’s health may impair them later on in life?

The media is not exempt from this crime also. I remember 5-10 years ago that the games were broadcast on ABC in the afternoons at all times. Now because of low ratings, ABC and ESPN has now used the little kids to sell commercial space and moved the games to prime time. Kids are used as tools for rating points and games now finish at times when kids should have been asleep. The networks now use radar guns to measure how fast the kids pitch. Do we really need to know who is the fastest pitcher in little league?

Some adults have used what was once a pure sport and have transformed it to a league just like the adults play in. Kids learn that even at a young age, cheating may help them win. If the pro leagues let athletes use illegal drugs and other schemes to win, this now means that the kids should practice it. As cynical as that may be, but if the adults practice it, the kids are not far behind in learning it.

Little League was supposed to be the organization where fair play is practiced. I thought the game was about having fun and learning teamwork and important fundamentals. The idea of Little League as a pure and honest sport has been marred just like college sports and the Olympics. I do not want the Little League to become the money making machine that major colleges and the Olympics use with their athletes. It seems to me the Little League is another tool to gain money and fame. It’s just too bad the kids are left behind.

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