Is Little League World Series coverage too much for kids to deal with?
On the surface, getting the chance to play baseball on ESPN as a 12-year old sounds great.
You get more exposure that you could ever dream of, you get to brag to your friends back home and, if you’re lucky, you’re the one who hit the game-winning home run that got replayed on SportsCenter 9,341 times.
But for some in the Little League World Series, it can be traumatizing. And it’s those kids I find myself drawn to when watching these games.
For every superhero-like performance like Chris Drury’s in 1989 for Trumbull, there’s many kids who boot the groundball that would have sealed a win or dropped a pop fly to let the winning run score in extra innings.
When I’m in front of the TV, I can’t help but root for kids not to fail instead of succeeding. I can’t imagine being the kid who cost his team a chance to win and what would come of it, especially with school starting right when you get back.
Sympathy is not exactly a strength of 12-year olds at school. And with YouTube at your fingertips, your bad play is just a click away in the classroom when someone feels like playing a joke. Dealing with that can not be easy, especially considering the amount of success you had previously.
You have to remember these kids are the best of the best in the country at their age group. In order to get to the Little League World Series, you had to play out of your mind for two months in tournaments, not to mention you probably dominated the regular season.
Failure is not something these kids are used to. When they do in this setting, not only do you feel like you let down your teammates and hometown, you have the likes of John Kruk and the ESPN crew sitting at their remote studio analyzing the play and what went wrong in front of the country.
As a 30-year old, I can’t imagine dealing with something like that at my age. Twelve-year old Patrick would have dug a hole and never wanted to come out.
Airing all these games just expands the possibility of kids being humiliated nationwide. I understand the popularity of the championship game and that it should be put on TV, but is it necessary to air all the games in the previous rounds? I'm not convinced it is.
Hopefully, by the time the LLWS wraps up this summer, we won’t have seen any Buckner-type endings or plays that determined outcomes. No 12-year old deserves to deal with the consequences of having that shown on National TV.