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Old 08-12-2006, 07:28 PM   #21
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Kids and competitive sports has always been a delicate mix, something you need to be careful about. I don't think they should have walked the star just to win. They should have let him hit.
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Old 08-12-2006, 11:06 PM   #22
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I just glanced over the "vision statement" as well as the rules and regulations for PONY League Baseball and, so far as I can tell, it's not an intrinsically noncompetitive program; rather, it seems to be a sort of semi-competitive setup where on the one hand, anyone who's capable of playing can join (and expect to bat--though not necessarily every rotation; that depends on age category, whether it's a title game or not, etc., per the rulebook); but on the other hand, "play is governed by the Official Rules of Major League Baseball," barring only "those exceptions deemed necessary for a youth baseball program." Meaning, among other things, that (as the article MrsS posted references) walking a star hitter so as to strategically capitalize on the next batter's weakness is perfectly legit, so far as it goes. And as a broad general principle, I'm inclined to agree with nb--experiencing firsthand the ups and downs of competition is part and parcel of what makes organized sports character-building; you're not doing kids any long-term favors by shielding them from the downs, any more than you would be by browbeating them with the kind of X-treme Soccer Mom-ist doctrine that suggests they have some kind of moral obligation to win and excel.

But as to this specific case, I guess for me it comes down to whether a child who's still physically able to play, but weakened in ways he *can't control* by brain cancer and radiotherapy, should be treated any differently than any other substandard player. I'm currently winding up several weeks' worth of radiation therapy for a brain tumor myself, I've done it several times before too, and while I don't, thank God, have cancer, I can vouch firsthand that radiotherapy causes your energy levels, your ability to focus, and your biochemical responses to stress to fluctuate wildly and uncontrollably. I've also volunteered several times at a local summer camp for kids with cancer, and would have to say that in my experience, you'd be hard-pressed to find a less coddled, lazy, and preferential-treatment-demanding group of people. I'm not saying anyone with such a condition deserves total kid-gloves treatment; they don't, and I think we've all experienced to some degree how a longterm illness can sometimes turn into an excuse for not even trying. Nonetheless, I think any kid who has the pluck to submit himself to the rigors of competition despite such formidable obstacles deserves an extra measure of considerateness in such a scenario--walking the star hitter to target the weak one is not an everyday strategy, it really does put exceptional psychological pressure on the weak hitter, and I don't think Romney Oaks would have felt (or been) infantilized had the coach decided not to exercise that option in his case. Aspiring to win and excel is important, and we shouldn't give kids an easy out on facing up to the shakedowns that entails...but with a kid who's this far from having had it "easy," I think showing a *little* extra sensitivity is the right thing to do, and sets a perfectly appropriate example for his teammates.
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