Mandy Mitchell

Why the Little League World Series should not be on TV

Posted August 10, 2012
Updated December 9, 2013

I was 10 years old and we were one win away from winning the National Championship in softball. It was the softball equivalent of the Little League World Series. This was HUGE! At least it felt that way for me. I was 10. When you are 10, things tend to feel bigger than they are. Plus, I’d spent my entire summer practicing for three hours a day. I probably would have preferred to spend my summer at a pool, eating a snow cone. But I spent the hot Florida summers on the softball field- everyday. So there I was in the national championship game. We only had to beat this team once. They had to beat us twice. We’d beaten the pulp out of them all summer, so the national championship was in the bag.

I played third base. I was a slick fielder with good reflexes. I was much better in the field than I was at the plate. I had a solid arm for a ten year old. I had a really good future ahead in the sport if I chose to pursue that future. I get teased a lot for my height. I’m 5’1’’ with heels, but I was blessed with very good athletic ability. Sports just come naturally to me. So I was good at softball.

This was not my day, though. I struck out a couple of times. I was just tired. It happens. I just wish it didn’t happen at the worst time ever.  We lost the first game. No big deal. We’d surely win the second game. Here’s where the story gets good, or bad depending on your perspective. We were up one in the last inning. The other team had bases loaded. We were one out away from the win. Their star player was up. The last time she was at bat, she hit it right to me and I proceeded to let the ball go under my legs. The error gave them a run. So the girl comes up again and my coach calls timeout and calls me over. He pointed at me and said, “listen… don’t let the damn ball go under your legs again.” I was 10. Tears filled my eyes. I was tired. She hit the ball right at me and the ball went under my legs, to the fence and we lost.

I could not have felt worse. At least I thought that was the case. I accepted my runner-up medal and walked over to collect my things. It was at this moment I thought I would go apologize to my coach for letting him down. I went around the dugout and overheard my coach saying to another coach, “The B**ches lost it for me.”

That’s why I hate to see the Little League World Series on TV. This is not for the kids. It’s for parents and it’s for coaches (like my old coach) who are living out some fantasy of being Vince Lombardi with a bunch of 9 year olds. Yes. I am sure there are exceptions, but I cannot imagine how much worse I would have felt if my major error was broadcast for the entire country to see.  

Before you tell me I’m just bitter, hear me out. I’ve been covering local sports for almost ten years. While I meet some youth sports coaches who are in it for the kids, I meet many more who are big time jerks. You get the distinct feeling they are taking out all of their past athletic failures on the kids. I’ve seen young kinds screamed at on the field like they lost the Super Bowl. I’ve seen a youth football coach spit chewing tobacco in the face of a kid who couldn’t have been 12. I’ve seen far too much ugliness to be convinced my experience playing high level youth sports was unique.

 Here’s another thing. I’ve never once been approached by a kid who wanted more coverage. The kids couldn’t care less. However, I am approached by parents and coaches all of the time. “These kids DESERVE the recognition. They work so hard!” You know what the kids deserve? To be left alone. They deserve to play the game they love without so much pressure to be perfect. They deserve to make mistakes and learn from them without the “benefits” of replay.

I played softball one more year and gave it up because I was burned out at 11. I was tired of being screamed at. I was tired of hearing words no little girl should hear. Youth sports needs a major reality check for what it’s really about. It needs to be about kids dreaming of being on TV…someday.  There is no reason to put them on TV now. It’s already HUGE to them. Parents and coaches should remember that.

63 Comments

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  • WolfpackInDaHouseV.13 Aug 17, 7:25 a.m.

    As a travel BB coach I have to say that I take much offense at the post and Mandy's portrayal of... View More

    — Posted by bassplayer4dalord

    concur.

    well said, bassplayer!

  • bassplayer4dalord Aug 16, 2:11 p.m.

    As a travel BB coach I have to say that I take much offense at the post and Mandy's portrayal of her coaches. Simple fact is you got a bad one, and yes there are bad ones, but I am constantly surprised at just how many good ones I find as well. Personally I spend WAAAAAY to much of my time on a volunteer position, securing practice fields, creating practice plans, fundraising, scheduling tournaments, setting lineups and ensuring reasonable equality of participation. What is sad is that many parents - perhaps yours - simply drop off the kids at practice, pick them up, and bring them to tournaments without actually getting involved at all to see if little Johnny is actually learning anything. Your parents should have seen what that coach was all about, and pulled you from that program immediately. After many years I now force my parents to be engaged, I will pull them aside after practice and talk to them about their kids and what they are doing. So many parents these day simply want to parent from a distance - you have to get your hands dirty or you child will have an experience like this. Children MUST learn personal responsibility, and on my team they will learn that their own personal stats come secondary to what the team needs. They also learn that not everyone starts, and those that don't/won't practice don't/won't play. Kids today a rewarded for showing up, when did doing what you are supposed to become the new standard of excellence?

  • BattlingBishop 5 Aug 15, 7:20 p.m.

    ...and you might want to consult Springer.

  • sburks1906 Aug 15, 10:33 a.m.

    I blogged on this last summer. I think it's more ridiculous for Little League to make lots of $$$ off these kids.

    http://theklowntimes.net/2011/08/31/why-is-the-little-league-world-series-televised/

    By the way, you might want to consult Dr. Phil...

  • BattlingBishop 5 Aug 15, 6:29 a.m.

    "Ten years old and facing big time pressure does not sound like fun to me."

    Is pressure... View More

    — Posted by BattlingBishop 5

    co-sign this powerfully accurate post.

    LLWS belongs on TV, end-o-story!

    well, that was fun!

    — Posted by WolfpackInDaHouseV.13

    Gracias, WPIDH, & agreed...the LLWS does belong on TV.

  • dbretz Aug 14, 8:09 p.m.

    It's the whole philosophy we are now told to embrace, nobody loses, don't keep score, give... View More

    — Posted by Sarge

    The funny thing about posts like this is that I see them all the time. But I almost never see... View More

    — Posted by dbretz

    what does any of that have to do with the LLWS being televised???

    with all due respect.

    thanks.

    — Posted by WolfpackInDaHouseV.13

    You'd have to ask Sarge. I was simply responding to his post.

  • WolfpackInDaHouseV.13 Aug 14, 4:54 p.m.

    It's the whole philosophy we are now told to embrace, nobody loses, don't keep score, give... View More

    — Posted by Sarge

    The funny thing about posts like this is that I see them all the time. But I almost never see... View More

    — Posted by dbretz

    what does any of that have to do with the LLWS being televised???

    with all due respect.

    thanks.

  • dbretz Aug 14, 4:34 p.m.

    It's the whole philosophy we are now told to embrace, nobody loses, don't keep score, give... View More

    — Posted by Sarge

    The funny thing about posts like this is that I see them all the time. But I almost never see the corresponding posts that say that all the kids, all the time, should always get trophies and we should never keep score in any games. The idea that many get worked up about how we're somehow constantly being told to "embrace" philosophies that I hardly ever hear anyone actually say is an interesting proposition. There are some youth leagues that are competitive. There are some that are participatory. Parents and their kids can perfectly legitimately decide to play, or not play, in either type. Nobody's forcing anybody to do anything. And I say this with 100% respect to Sarge, because I do understand that his point is that there are good lessons to be learned in playing youth sports, and experiencing disappointments as well as successes. But I find the life philosophy that says "someone always loses in the end" pretty depressing. It's just me, but I certainly don't live life thinking that if someone succeeds, it automatically means someone else "loses". As for handing out trophies to everyone on a team, I'm a pretty big fan of the concept of appreciation for a season of good effort, and even the simple idea of kindness. Kids love trophies. I played all sorts of sports when I was younger, and they were always in competitive leagues. Some coaches gave out trophies to all the kids, and it was cool to get one. Some didn't, and it wasn't the end of the world. I 100% agree with everyone on this subject who talk about the great values and lessons to be learned in playing youth sports. I just think some could lighten up just a touch and realize there's also nothing wrong with fun for fun's sake.

  • Sarge Aug 14, 3:17 p.m.

    It's the whole philosophy we are now told to embrace, nobody loses, don't keep score, give everyone a trophy (whether they earned it or not)... and on an on. Well someone always loses in the end, and someone has to pay the bills That's life! Is this big sister knows best?

  • WolfpackInDaHouseV.13 Aug 14, 9:21 a.m.

    "Ten years old and facing big time pressure does not sound like fun to me."

    Is pressure... View More

    — Posted by BattlingBishop 5

    co-sign this powerfully accurate post.

    LLWS belongs on TV, end-o-story!

    well, that was fun!

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