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Rick Reilly raises ethical dillema in youth sports

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by suburbia, Aug 9, 2006.

  1. suburbia

    suburbia Active Member

    I'm not sure compromise is appropriate here, but if that's what you want to call that, it seems like a very acceptable one, IMO.

    I'm uncomfortable with the idea of intentional walks and other detailed strategy in a game involving 9 & 10 year olds that has unnatural limits in place to begin with. So "pitch" to the slugger, but don't give him anything easy to hit. If he beats you on a pitch way out of the zone like the kid you mentioned did, hats off to him. If you end up walking him anyway...at least you pitched to the guy straight up.
  2. JRoyal

    JRoyal Well-Known Member

    These are 9- and 10-year-old kids, for crying out loud, and a supposedly non-competitive league, or at least one that tries to be less competititive. Walking the kid was a jerk move, and, yeah, it does matter that the kid had cancer. Now, if he was a year or two in remission and had no problems, screw it. Walk the star; pitch to him. Still a jerk move for pulling it in a league like this with kids that age, but you're not an a-hole. BUT THE KID STILL HAD A SHUNT IN HIS HEAD. His parents probably have him signed up for baseball and basketball to give him something to do to keep his mind off, oh, I don't know, the fact that a deadly disease could return at any time and kill him. Sorry, but the weight a kid with cancer carries is a little different than the extra pounds a fat kid carries, and trust me, this comes from a fat kid who had to work his ASS off to mark forwards on the soccer field.

    This teaches kids win at all costs. Nothing else. Which if that is what you want to teach your kids, fine. Me, I'd rather teach my kids that it's better to lose and be able to hold your head up than win in a questionable manner. I want my kids to be competitive, but I also want them to know there's more to sports than winning.

    And I bet if the kids were making the call, they'd have said pitch to the star. Kids are a hell of a lot more charitable, especially at that age, than a lot on here are giving them credit for. Now, in two years, they'd say, screw him. Let's go for the win. But at 9 and 10 (and I have a 9-year-old), they're more about having fun than winning. Sure, they know the score and want to win. But they want to have fun more, and they have fun even when they lose, or most do anyhow.

    And the coaches are jackasses, whether you agree with their decision or not. Why? Because they lied their asses off and said they didn't know the kid had cancer, when it turns out the assistant who suggested the walk had coached the cancer kid's basketball team and was told he had cancer. No way he forgot this kid.
  3. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    I'm sure this wasn't the first intentional walk in this league's history, so why did they not have a rule preventing it if intentional walks are so awful at that level? They didn't, so that tells me intentional walks isn't the issue. To me, that says the issue is not the walk, but the fact the kid had cancer — and again, it wasn't like it was a special at-bat, the kid played game-in, game-out for that team.

    And I don't see anywhere where the Yankees coaches said they didn't know the kid had cancer, only that they felt he should be treated like any other player... remember the "It's not the Special Olympics" quote. Again, if I was in that kid's situation, I'd want nothing more than the chance to play like my teammates and be the hero. He got that chance.
  4. D-Backs Hack

    D-Backs Hack Guest

    Did the Yankees coach, in any way, cheat?

    And I'm willing to bet that, even at nine or 10 years old, the pitcher -- with a base open, the other team's best hitter up, their worst hitter on deck -- already knew not to throw a pitch in the strike zone. It's not taking the "easy way out," it's an absolute no-brainer at just about any level of organized baseball.

    My son will be starting T-ball soon. My hope is that his coaches provide him a chance to play, teach him how to play the game, show him how to conduct himself with honor and discipline -- basically, all the things dog wrote about. However, I also hope my son to be taught how to achieve -- to try to win with class and within the framework of the rules.

    Seriously, when I'm watching my son, I should have no expectation that his team is trying to win? I guess I had my priorities all out of whack when I played for Vance Refrigeration in the Twin Branch Little League.

    This fall, across America, high school football teams will take the field, some with kids that were recruited while in junior high, some with kids playing for gold 'ol Superpower High only because their parents rented a (vacant) apartment to establish residency in that school's attendance zone. Kids who are really 14 years old will be dominating in 12-year old Little Leagues. And some parents will insist that if Barry Bonds took steroids, he wasn't cheating because there was nothing in the major-league rules about it.

    Start with those issues first, and then maybe you can get worked up about an intentional walk in a pony-league game.

    By all descriptions, all of the kids in that game got to play. They had fun and conducted themselves in a proper manner. So how is trying to win in the end sending a bad message?

    If my kid was on that field -- for either team -- I have no problem with what the Yankees coach did.
  5. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    Why is playing to win being equated with 'win at all costs.'
    Nobody got plunked. Nobody cheated. Everybody got to play.
  6. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    You know its not about "cheating", its about playing honorably. Something that is wholly lacking in American sports in recent history, perhaps throughout its history.

    When I was in LL, as an 11 and 12 yr old, I had the privilege of playing for the League Champs (Major league, highest then) both years and play LL All-Stars and we had a wonderful coach, Leroy Murray. I'll never forget him because he never once preached "win at all costs.", even in All-Stars. Yet somehow we were successful. Looking back, its because he stressed personal accountability and fundamentals, hitting the cutoff, keeping the ball in front of you, running the bases aggressively without stupidity. I do not recall any IBBs ever, even though we had some studs in the league (one of my 9yrd old teammates when I was 12 went on to be an All-America at UCLA and 1st round pick).

    I do not believe that "winning at all costs" teaches you an irreplaceable lesson in life. In fact I think its destructive thinking. I'm 43 now and I think the key to life is balance, not "winning at all costs." So you lose a 9-10 championship game, so what? So you win, so what? Did winning 2 LL championships make me a better person in the long run? No. Learning from Leroy Murray made me a better person.

    The problem is that from the very young age, start of organized sports, parents and coaches make athletics more important than other aspects of life and give them elite status; thereby engraining in the exceptional athlete a warped sense of entitlement. Read Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz (about how some "star" football players raped a mentally retarded girl.)
  7. Flash

    Flash Guest

    Couldn't have said it better ...
  8. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    But there's nothing in this situation that is 'win at all costs.'
    You're setting up a straw argument.
    Nobody is saying or preaching 'win at all costs.'
  9. JRoyal

    JRoyal Well-Known Member

    From Reilly's column:

  10. broadway joe

    broadway joe Guest

    Well, there are people on here saying that you play to win, period. And that as long as you play within the rules, anything you do in order to win is OK. That's just not true, not with 9 and 10 year olds. Any youth coach who's worth a damn will tell you that winning is not the top priority with kids that age, not by a long shot. Making sure the kids have fun is No. 1, followed by teaching them about commitment to a team, good sportsmanship, helping them to improve their skills, etc. Winning comes pretty far down the list. There are reasonable arguments on both sides of this debate, but saying that you ought to just play to win is not one of them.
  11. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    I'm one of the people saying you play to win.
    That's not the same as saying 'win at all costs.'
  12. vicd

    vicd Active Member

    "Hey Yankees, you can take your apology and your trophy and shove it straight up your ass!"
    -Tanner Boyle
    Vic Morrow tried to intentionally walk Kelly Leak in the ninth.
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