The Little League World Series is a largely positive event with players and their families coming together from all over the globe to celebrate the game of baseball. It’s a great reminder that, despite the challenges, the sport has a heartbeat among the younger generation and a new stable of talent will always be there to replace the departing one. Of all the things on the landscape, it’s among the least problematic.
In fact, the only flies in the ointment are the terrible umpiring and an iffy feeling toward broadcasting the emotions of these tweens and teens internationally. Small potatoes stuff, no real heavy moral grappling. It would take a very angry and sad person to look to Williamsport and find something negative.
Folks, I regret to inform you that I apparently fit that description. Because this — this right here — is a nagging little bug that’s burrowed its way into my brain and is feasting away until I say something.
What … the … hell?
Let’s get all the necessary caveats out of the way to prove I’m not a knuckle-dragging moron deriding the softening of our society. Teaching sportsmanship and proper perspective should be among the top goals of youth sports. Learning that it’s just a game is essential. Tipping one’s cap to an opponent and respecting them is healthy.
But high-fiving the opposite hitter after he blasts one out of the park feels way different than a post-game handshake. It feels so weird.
And look, I know I can’t have it both ways. Just the other day there was a coach trying to make an international incident out of some sign-stealing in a fit of sour grapes. I’d much rather the kids dap each other up than throw beanballs and slide with cleats up high.
What I’m wondering is if we can’t find some middle ground here. One that doesn’t include mid-trot fist bumps from the team that just took a hit on the scoreboard. More precisely, if the act of doing it is considered good sportsmanship, is failing to pull the thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another routine considered poor sportsmanship?
If that’s that’s the case, it’s wild.
All of this is intensely harmless. And maybe all that’s being accomplished here is a public admission that I’m a dinosaur. But I will never, ever get used to this. It is so antithetical to the flow of baseball and sports in general. If youth basketball players are slapping hands with opposing teams after they make a three and there’s choreographed dances with both teams after touchdowns on Pee-Wee football, I’m blissfully unaware of it.
Perhaps that’s a joy of parenting on the horizon.
So, look, there it is. A rant or an admission. What I really would like to know is where I fall on the spectrum here. Am I in the extremely minority who finds this somewhat appalling? Or does everyone secretly think that but go along with it? Or, uh, am I the jerk?