Kids must come first

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Little League is about the kids, but the Malibu draft that just occurred reminds me of the major league on steroids. There are 12 year olds in the minors playing alongside first graders. There are 9-year-olds who weigh only 60 pounds playing next to 13-year-olds who outweigh them by 150% (Middles). What are you thinking?

I know my son could have physically made it in the middles, but I asked that he be held back to play within his own age group. That made a lot of sense to me but apparently not to the officials. He is one of the strongest 9-year-olds you’ll meet but they put him on a team with first graders. Not only is that stupid, it is dangerous. Not only does it hurt the self-esteem of the 12-year-old who is playing on a team with 1st graders, it endangers the whole program. I don’t want my son playing on a team with 13-year- olds or 7-year-olds.

The politics in Malibu Little League is incredible. This reflects on the organizers and coaches. Some people have these fantasies of their children playing in the big leagues but this is going too far. Malibu teams never seem to make it to the Little League World Series but the Westlake teams do quite often. Take a look at their program. They only play within their age groups (9-10).It is for this reason that I am withdrawing my son from his team and have transferred him to the Westlake organization. He found a team that seems very happy with his late registration. It is a great team with very high skill levels and no 1st graders or 12-year-olds.

I don’t think many of the future star athletes from Malibu are going to be able to compete with the likes of my Esquerra nephews from Whittier and Pico Rivera for a spot on the Dodgers. That seems to be the way the world works. It is all about desire from within the child. Success is not something a parent can dream upon their child, but perspective is. Children have to have the dream themselves. All the pushing by parents will not make their children succeed in life. My daughter graduated from Malibu High, and is currently studying at Berkeley. Not once did I help her with her homework in high school. I never reviewed a test with her. I never looked at her college applications. I never bothered to ask her if she was going to class. The only thing I did was to ask her to compete fairly. Compete only because you want it, not because I want it for you.

I have three parting suggestions. Coaches should not choose their own teams. I suggest a computerized lottery based upon performance evaluation from last season or tryouts this season. I also suggest moving to Pony baseball that is generally preferred by parents and kids. Kids then play in an A or B division within their own age groups. Finally, I suggest more facilities for our kids. Kids parks are more important than dog parks and I suggest a community uprising if any money is spent on the dogs. I suggest all available money goes to kids.

Steven Bard