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We interrupt this feel-good story to be amazed at the pimping of kids in sports

with 2 comments

So I’m reading a feel-good story at, naturally,

Reader Melinda Powelson, of Littleton, Colorado, writes, “We just got back from the 12U Cooperstown Dreams Park tournament. Our team, ranked #102 of 102 teams, experienced an incredible display of sportsmanship from the #1 ranked team at the tournament…It felt like were were living in the movie “Rudy” when these events transpired.”

Here’s Melinda’s story: …

Nestled in a lush valley in the Catskill Mountains, New York’s Cooperstown Dreams Park is nostalgically called the Field of Dreams. Last week, the Dakota Ridge Eagles from Colorado and the West Chester Sluggers of Ohio were among the 102 teams who played in the jewel of 12-year-old baseball tournaments. On these hallowed grounds, the Eagles and Sluggers exhibited a brand of sportsmanship that proves that it’s not always winning that matters, but how you play the game.

The West Chester Sluggers are one of youth baseball’s elite, called a “northern powerhouse” by Travel Ball Select (TBS) magazine, a publication that ranks teams across the country. …

And that’s where I stopped.

Are you kidding me? Travel Ball Select magazine? You mean grown people make their living ranking which pre-pubescent team is likely to beat another pre-pubescent team?

Oh yeah. Not only does Travel Ball Select have its own list, but its Web site also has extensive coverage of  games you couldn’t possibly care about, not if you have a healthy adult life. Presumably someone is paying the membership fee so when they click on the picture of 14U featured player Niko Gonzalez, they can, as the caption says, “Meet Latino Heat.”  Why do I get the feeling the cops will be monitoring any grown person’s desire to “Meet Latino Heat”?

Of course, this is not limited to baseball. Clark Francis and his Hoop Scoop make a living doing things like ranking the best fifth-grade player in the nation. I don’t know if the folks behind Travel Ball Select do this (there’s no information on the site, at least none I can find, about who’s behind it), but Francis’ job is to scout little kids and hold camps for the best of them so NCAA coaches don’t have to, or because they can’t. (The NCAA this year just lowered the recruiting threshold to seventh grade — yes, seventh grade — mainly because some coaches already were holding their own elite camps to make contact with the top tweens.)

I don’t mean to cast aspersions on people who chose to make their living panting over little-kid sports prospects like an even creepier Mel Kiper Jr. OK, maybe I do. All I know is, I’m not sure what is scarier: Travel Ball Select and its ilk, or their subscribers.

Written by rkcookjr

July 15, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Posted in Sports

Tagged with , ,