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Kids' sports-- whatever it takes to win

Discussion in 'Sports Forum' started by Alcott, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Dec 17, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Here is an interesting dilemma for us. The story can be found at http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2549340

    Briefly, in the final inning of Little League championship game for 10-and-unders, the Red Sox' Romney Oaks, a player recovering from a brain tumor and allowed to play ball only if he wears a helmet at all times, and the poorest hitter on the team, struck out. The batter ahead of him the best hitter on the team, had been walked intentionally to face Oaks. Apparently this is very rare in Little League, but there is no rule against it. Still, the coach has been roundly condemned for 'picking on' a weaker player in order to win. His answer is that his own players had worked hard for the championship, so he had a responsibility to do what he could to see that their efforts were rewarded.

    In another incident the article relates, a team is composed of 13 players, who each must play for 3 defensive outs and have at least one appearance at bat. One team mistakenly had not given a player a time at bat, so they deliberately tried to let the opponents tie the game to get an extra inning to make a win official. The opponent, knowing of their personnel blunder, deliberately made the outs to lose, knowing the game would be foreited; whereas by taking the run they were 'given,' they might lose an official game.

    In regard to Little League and more broadly about youth sports, what should be done (if anything) to keep teams from playing loose with the rules in order to win or advance? Should it be allowed to walk a good hitter to pitch to a poor hitter, or is teamwork and sportsmanship an important enough goal to make it mandatory to pitch to whatever batter is at bat, and win or lose without bruising an ego? Should letting the opposition score on purpose to cover up a rules mistake be allowed?

    How much all-about-winning should sports be, particularly youth and children's sports? At what age, if ever, does the philosophy begin, "Winning is absolutely the only thing that matters?"?