The Little League Baseball season in my neighborhood is beginning and the trend is unmistakable. Kids aren’t playing the game like they used to. Registration for Pinto (ages 8-9) and Mustang (age 10) is down 25% from last year. Our community parallels the experience for Little League Baseball nationally, where there has been a steady decline in participation. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, the number of children ages 7 to 17 playing baseball dropped 24% in the past decade.
What is going on? It’s quite simple. Kids and their parents are finally catching on that baseball is a game for losers. For years, they have been fed a line by tweedy Ivy League professors with patches on their elbows and frustrated sportswriters, who couldn’t hit a curve ball if their lives depended on it, proclaiming how great baseball is. It’s America’s sport, the National Pastime.
Not only is baseball not America’s sport, it’s about as anti-American as you can get. Look at the values baseball promotes. Can anyone honestly say those values are what our country is all about?
Patience - Contemplation in the dugout while spitting sunflower seeds and wondering what the pitcher is going to throw? Standing in the outfield waiting for something to happen? That’s for chumps. Give me constant movement! Give me immediate action! I WANT MY XBOX! RIGHT NOW!
Failure -This is the game where you are a success if you hit .300, meaning you fail 70% of the time. Any idiot knows this level of failure ruins a kid’s self-esteem. Ask every child psychologist at Columbia University. We can’t have a kid go back to the bench after striking out and think about that third strike for three innings until their next at-bat. What will that do to their psyche? The kid will be in therapy for years. At least in football if a kid misses a block he can redeem himself a minute later and crush someone’s skull on the next play. Hoist up a bad shot in basketball? Don’t worry. In thirty seconds you get your chance to recover your self-esteem. And where would this great nation be if our kids didn’t have self-esteem?
Game Not Conducive to Parental Boasting – Imagine you’re at a game sitting next to your neighbor, both of you watching your kids play. His car is slightly nicer than yours, his lawn is slightly bigger than yours, and his wife is slightly prettier than yours. You turn to him - which would you rather say? That’s three goals for my son, the left-winger! Or, My son, the centerfielder, hit the cutoff man! Right, I’m sure Mr. Neighbor will be impressed and swoon, “Ooooooh, your son hit the cutoff man”.
History – Who cares if your grandfather saw Honus Wagner hit a triple 90 years ago? Who the heck is Honus Wagner anyway? That was even before the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. Cavemen were riding dinosaurs when that happened. Geezer stuff. Not our demo, dear.
Do you call any of that American? Besides, there’s the ultimate futility of it all. Everybody knows at the highest level of baseball the Yankees win because they spend the most money. So what’s the point? Who wants to expend the effort and try to beat the Yankees? Nobody, that’s who. Underdog? A polite term for “loser”.
Baseball is America’s game? Answer this - if baseball was America’s game when was the last time you saw anybody’s brackets for the World Series? And by the way, where are the cheerleaders? A sport with no cheerleaders –you call that America?
Those pretentious Ivy League bluebloods (mostly Red Sox fans) and schlump sportswriters with mustard on their pants have been selling the public a bill of goods for years, blathering about baseball being the National Pastime. There’s nothing about baseball that reflects our national character. OK, maybe the steroids, and the pushy union, and the greedy owners. But you don’t even get any of that good stuff in Little League.
Best to keep your kids away from the so-called National Pastime. Or better yet, if you don’t believe it, go ahead - encourage them to play Little League Baseball. The next thing you know they will be teenagers , reading Karl Marx and muttering sotto voce about capitalism at the dinner table. Is that what you want? Baseball, who needs it?
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