Little League decisions made fairly

Published 2:54 pm Monday, May 10, 2004

By Staff
Little League baseball is about fun, sportsmanship, opportunity and learning to coexist within a team-oriented sport. Little League Baseball mandates that every player is given an opportunity to play in ever game. Little League is also a competitive sport where the team that scores the most runs "wins," three strikes and you are out, and those that do perform better will play more. I have been personally involved with the issues surrounding the innuendoes described in the Letter to the Editor for the Sunday, May 2, 2004 edition of The Brewton Standard, and thus I feel compelled to respond.
I have been involved with Brewton Little League for four years and I am currently serving my second term as president. The only enjoyment that I, or any other person that currently serves on the board of directors or any of our eight coaching staffs ever receives is the ear-to-ear smile smile on a kid's face when they get their first hit, score the winning run, or simply get his or her preferred beverage after the game. Other than these few special moments that make it worthwhile, there is very little appreciation and consideration given to those who spend six months volunteering their time and knowledge to teach our children the game of baseball and make sure the season is successful from many different perspectives.
Brewton Little League prides itself on being fair. We go out of our way to select the teams as fair as possible, interviewing and approving the coaches, making sure every team has sufficient assistant coaches, equal practice times, and that everything we do is a model for other leagues. No player has ever been selected to a team due to some social hierarchy, favoritism, his parents profession or any other asinine selection criteria. They are placed on a team in a certain order because of one simple reason: ability.
Life is about making the most of your chances. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, was cut from his high school basketball team. At this point Michael had two choices to make about his career. He could throw in the towel or he could practice, practice, practice and return the next year and prove to his coach that he had made a mistake. Michael wasn't (as stated in the before mentioned letter) so nervous that he "can hardly do well." Currently, there is a kid in our league that has sat on the bench for three straight years biding his time, and this year he is having a "breakout" year. I coached this kid earlier in his career, and I admire his tenacity and competitiveness because he is now reaping the benefits of his own hard work and patience with a game that has not been kind to him for almost a third of his life.
Maybe as parents we should never teach our children to blame others for their shortcomings, or have an excuse available every time things are not as we would like them. Maybe we would be better in the long term to teach them to fight for what they believe in, and when somebody tells them they can't do something, for them to have the mindset to prove them wrong. I am a parent like everyone else and certainly don't have the answers when it comes to raising children, but I do know the circumstances surrounding this issue, and will defend those coaches for their decisions because they have been fair and just.
Tony Smith
Brewton Little League