Youth baseball gets too serious

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play thegame.”

Obviously, that famous quotation, often attributed to that greatscorekeeper in the sky, was proclaimed before youth league baseballwas invented.

Youth baseball is supposed to be a fun experience but parentshave ruined it. Too much emphasis is placed on winning. Be on alosing team and the youngster brings shame and disgrace to thefamily.

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Who wrote this script?

Baseball, youth sports in general, are supposed to be apleasant, fun experience for parents and children alike. It’ssupposed to be an uplifting opportunity to share quality, bondingtime with your children.

Still, parents take this youth league baseball too seriously,much too seriously.

We have been covering games and writing sports for 33 years.Obviously, we have seen and heard a lot.

This column had a new experience Wednesday afternoon. Anattractive, young woman wished to speak to the sports editor orwhoever that guy is that puts the Dixie Youth Baseball Leaguereports in the paper.

“Who gives you this information?”

Usually, the league president or a league coach drops off thebaseball forms which are filled out by the official scorekeepers.They are usually deposited the night of the games or the nextmorning. Some are even faxed to us.

“Well, I am tired of reading about my son being the losingpitcher. It really hurts his feelings.”

Golly, gee. I tried to explain to her that’s part of baseball.There always is a losing pitcher and a winning pitcher. The womanwas smoldering. I probably outweighed her by 140 pounds but she wasready to attack.

“My son pitched better than the winning pitcher. He struckout more batters and didn’t walk as many.”

Well, the winning pitcher was fortunate enough to be on the teamthat scored the most runs. It’s no big deal. The temperature in theroom jumped 10 degrees.

“I do not want my son’s name in the paper as the losingpitcher. Do you understand?”

Yes, ma’am.

Taking a personal look at this situation, we have seen rabidfans on the college and professional sports levels on manyoccasions display awful behavior. We have seen drunken, abusivefans at games escorted to the exits by law enforcement officialsand arrested. We have seen fights break out in a close high schoolbasketball game. We have seen referees attacked.

Sports can be ugly if too much emphasis is placed onwinning.

Personally, I have often wondered why they bother to keep scorein those youth baseball leagues. Let the kids take turns battingfor an hour. Then turn out the lights and go home.

No uniforms. No umpires. No winning or losing pitcher. Just getout there, play the game and have fun.

It’s no wonder that many 12 year-olds are burned out byorganized sports before they reach the high school level. Theparents are ruining it.

Meanwhile, out on the golf course, we have been treated to threestraight days of outstanding golf. The Class 4A State Tournamentwas held at the Brookhaven Country Club on Monday and Tuesday. TheClass 2A state tourney was held at the Wolf Hollow Golf Club on theCopiah-Lincoln Community College campus, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Both tournaments went remarkably well. They were well organizedand the competition was keen. Terry rallied in the second round toclaim the 4A crown. Madison St. Joseph came from behind to beatdefending state champion Loyd Star for the 2A crown.

Loyd Star, with just one senior on the squad, should be a titlecontender again next year. Coach Ricky Myers hasdone a great job promoting the 6-year-old program.

Brookhaven, also stacked with underclassmen, should be strongnext year, too. The Panthers are coached by RyanRoss who has taken the offensive coordinator position withSouthwest Mississippi Community College.

According to BHS athletic director and head football coachTucker Peavey, line coach JaymiePalmer has been elevated to offensive coordinator.

In another coaching change, Brookhaven Academy assistantfootball and head track coach Paul Anderson hasaccepted an assistant coaching position at Terry. Anderson servedas offensive coordinator at BA for two years.

Anderson’s replacement is Andrew Hickman, avolunteer assistant last year who formerly served as head coach andAD at BHS. According to BA head coach Ray Ishee,Hickman will serve as offensive coordinator.

Another loss at the academy is baseball head coach RonRushing who is moving to Adams County Christian School.Rushing, a Natchez native, will work for ACCS headmasterJohn Gray who held a similar position atBrookhaven Academy for 25 years.

At Wesson, two coaching positions became vacant when principalBilly O. Britt stepped down as boys basketballcoach and Phillip Knight relinquished the baseballjob after one year at the helm. Wesson’s baseball team, with sevenseniors in the starting lineup, realized its best-ever campaign,reaching the South State 2A semifinals.

BHS Fish Fry: The Brookhaven Gridiron Club willhost a “Make The Goal” Fish Fry on Tuesday, May 13. Plates can bepicked up from 5-8:30 p.m. All proceeds are earmarked for thepurchase of new goal posts on King Field.

The catfish will be cooked by Smithie Buie.Plates are $7 and can be purchased in advance from BHS footballplayers or by calling 833-8223.