When I was growing up, the Little League World Series was a pipe dream for any kid playing Little League Baseball, but the lure of going to Williamsport, Pennsylvania was always there. As a 12-year old in the early 1980’s, dreams of reaching the LLWS meant picturing what it would be like to be there. Being able to smell the grass and see the stands filled with people was what you dreamed of but there was one other thing too.
Back then, the only game televised was the championship game between the United States’ representative and the foreign team which was typically from Taiwan or Japan. One game, that’s it. That’s all it needed to be because kids needed to be able to dream but those dreams are far different now because of television and social media.
If you’re a sports’ fan then you already know who Mo’ne Davis is. She’s just the 18th girl to play in the LLWS in it’s 68 year history. She isn’t just any girl though, she’s a pitcher and she’s good. Very good and she’s mature beyond her years and she’s personable and even in defeat last night against the team from Nevada she handled herself well.
This is a credit to her and her family and her coaches, but I really wish we weren’t talking about her and the LLWS the way we are though. I wish she and the rest of these kids could just be kids. I wish there weren’t cameras on them from every conceivable angle and I wish there weren’t microphones shoved in their faces after every game.
Ya, I’m in the classic ‘old guy wishes things were different’ mode, but I just don’t think the attention on these kids is very healthy. There was once a time when we as kids emulated the pitching style or batting stances of our favorite players. Kids don’t do that as much anymore. Now they are trying to emulate the way they speak and the way they wear their hats or their headphones.
This is of course great for the Nike’s and Under Armor’s of the world who pay millions (see Kevin Durant) for stars to wear their gear. If the kids see their favorites doing something or wearing something than it’s only natural they will want to do the same thing.
As far as Davis is concerned, she has big goals that actually aren’t about baseball. She has dreams of playing for the UConn Womens’ basketball team and that is one heck of a lofty girl for a 13-year old. Should she get there, this entire experience will have been beneficial for her in terms of growth both in an athletic arena and out.
But what if she doesn’t make it there? What if any of these kids who have had their highlights plastered on ESPN and YouTube don’t make it and suffer because of it? Most of what I’ve seen from these coaches so far has been positive and the kids today need that. Many of these kids are being exploited and I fear Davis could be one of them.
These kids really have no business throwing curveballs at this age but they do and regardless of what I think this will continue no matter what the long-term damage to the arm may be. So the over-exposure of these kids isn’t just about too much media time either because it’s also about their health.
Mo’ne Davis has been a great story. I just hope she can go back to being a 13-year girl from Philly when this is all over.