My godson, Walter, has finally been weaned off the tee and played in his first Little League game with live pitching last weekend. I was so excited to see this little guy hit bombs and turn double plays that I got to the game an hour early. I figured that once I was there, I would pull Li'l Wally aside and give him some last-second pointers. (Never mind the fact that his father is the coach of the team and was a high school phenom; why leave any stone unturned?)
What transpired on that little field for seven-year-olds Sunday was nothing short of an abomination.
My godson batted cleanup (naturally) and led off the second inning with an absolute moon shot. The ball flew off his bat like he was nine! The left fielder had no chance (maybe because he spent the first two pitches squishing bugs against the bill of his cap) and ran like the wind to catch up with the ball. As my godson rounded second base, the ball was rolling around in the outfield after taking a generous carom away from anyone with a glove. Inexplicably, my godson pulled up at second base and stood on it, clapping his hands.
What the hell happened? Maybe he knew he was going to hit for the cycle and wanted to get the double out of the way early. Maybe he pulled a hamstring. I ran down to the dugout where my best friend was on the top step yelling things like, "Atta boy, Walt!" and asked him what the heck was going on. He informed me that in this Little League there are no home runs allowed because the parents and administrators of the league feel it is unfair to the other kids. He continued to tell me that parents don't like it when their children are made to feel bad by being crushed by a home run, so all home runs in this league are only doubles.
WHAT!!! Are you kidding me? Do you want to know who I feel bad for? The mini man standing on second base who was denied the glorious feeling of hitting his first bomb. I am so sick and tired of all the coddling that goes on in kids' sports these days. If your child feels bad when he gives up a home run, then help him get over it. Why not teach kids at a young, impressionable age that there are winners and losers? Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's what the game -- and life -- is all about.