Monday, August 21, 2006

A Kid's Game for Grown-Ups

The Little League World Series started last week and will continue until Sunday. All weekend, the games were on the TV, with various countries sending their best and brightest 12-year-olds to Williamsport, PA in search of the championship. I think even Thailand has a team. Check their birth certificates.
As with most things, I have mixed feelings about this spectacle. Mostly, I object to putting a 12-year-old on TV in a competition either before or after grown-ups are playing the same game for profit. The commentators (some of them former major leaguers) make the viewers think that the kids are real ballplayers, describing their actions as though they were talking about the Yankees. These kids aren't ballplayers any more than JonBenet Ramsey was a beauty queen.
They're 12 years old.
The games were on ESPN almost non-stop last weekend, and they will be on this week, as the teams are whittled down to a precious few, with International Semifinals and something called the Urban Initiative Game - whatever that is.
They're 12 years old.
The stands are filled with parents and family, cheering in their native languages and rooting for the kids to represent their home country in the Little League championship. As it turns out, Wilson Sporting Goods has supplied identical helmets and bats to all the players at the request of the Little League. The reason they are identical is because the League didn't want Wilson supplying better equipment to the better players and leaving out the lesser players, as they wanted to do.
They're 12 years old.
Competition is supposed to be good, but I'm not sure that all of these kids understand what's going on. The games will be on ESPN all week, and the final will be on their parent, ABC. I guess we are supposed to think that kids are somehow more virtuous than adults who use drugs to enhance their performance. If Marion Jones and Rafael Palmiero used drugs, they did so because they knew the consequences - good and bad. Kids are just playing baseball. I'm not watching because they're somehow more moral than adults.
They're 12 years old.
I'm not sure that this belongs on almost non-stop TV as much as I am not sure that kiddie beauty pageants should exist. I'm skeptical of anything where children are exploited by adults. Television advertising isn't cheap, and to sell it in the name of children playing baseball is a bit odd, I think. Children and animals should not be used to sell products.

Watch if you must, but understand that they are kids, and should not be compared to adults in any way, shape or form. If we think that the kids are more virtuous than adults, perhaps the adults shouldn't be putting them on TV. That would be the virtuous thing to do. Let the kids play the games, but don't make a dime off of them, and don't for a second compare them to adults.
They're 12 years old.


Kate Michele said...

Can't they just be kids?????

Anthony said...

Nope. Not where there's money involved.

They're little marketing tools.