Monday, August 24, 2009

Little League World Series

Around this time every Summer I am confronted with a dilemma that is, the Little League World Series. The conflict I have with the event is that it is a great way to showcase the accomplishments these kids have had all year long and some of the incredible talent they have amassed throughout the year and even their careers. The fact that these kids are some of the best ball players internationally at this age is undeniable, and their desire to perform inevitable. However, at times you have to question the amount of media coverage that gets thrown these kids way. I mean all of these games are televised now (a lot of them on ESPN- The WORLDWIDE leader in sports) and the athletes are being interviewed after games almost the same way Albert Pujols, a grown man, is interviewed, but they are 12 and 13 year olds (I think). This part of the tournament is ridiculous to me and something I wish was different. Plenty of research has shown that athletes at this age are no where near peak ability or skill acquisition.

The picture above depicts some of the negative effects that can accompany increased pressure on a young athlete in this type of tournament. Of course for every one of these, I think there are about 5 happy moments for other kids, but that's not the point. I think we should strive for youth athletics to satisfy all participants by praising social and personal development, skill improvement, physical activity participation, and enjoyment. Not so much the outcome of the event. Tournaments like this increase the pressure on the athletes in a negative way in my opinion and are built for someone to receive a personal financial benefit in most cases rather than for the sake of the athletes involved and that is sad.

To help eliminate this, USA Hockey is implementing a new American Development Model to help athletes develop and grow for the long term and for the benefit of the athletes, not the adults involved. More on the American Development Model later this week. Thank you for reading.

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