The Little League Softball World Series showed some adults really know how to mess up a kid’s love of sports.
It also showed some adults don’t get it when it comes to playing sports properly.
For those readers who don’t know what I’m talking about, there was a controversy in the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore., earlier this week.
A team from South Snohomish, Wash., was playing its final game of pool play. The team had gone undefeated in pool play despite having a close game with a team from Central Iowa.
Because of that close game, South Snohomish’s coach, Fred Miller, didn’t want to see that Central Iowa team again in the semifinals. That would happen if South Snohomish either beat eventual champion North Carolina or scored at least three runs against them.
So Miller sat his four best players against North Carolina and also ordered his girls to bunt — even with two strikes on them — so as to eliminate Central Iowa from bracket play and not have to face them again, making his path easier.
North Carolina no-hit South Snohomish 8-0.
Central Iowa coach Chris Chadd watched what happened and appealed the result to the tournament organizers, who declined to overturn it. So he appealed to Little League International, which, in turn, ordered a one-game, winner-take-all playoff between South Snohomish and Central Iowa.
Central Iowa won 3-2, moving them on to bracket play and sending South Snohomish home.
Miller claimed innocence, as did the upset parents of South Snohomish. Both claimed he was just resting players.
Then why did all the players have to bunt, even with two strikes, knowing that a foul ball on a bunt with two strikes would result in a strikeout?
The first lesson of always playing your best, which is vocally pledged at the beginning of every Little League game of any level, was lost on Miller. Throwing a game is not playing your best.
A second lesson was not learned by critics of the South Snohomish team.
Reports said some people left threatening messages at the hotel the Washington team was staying at. An assistant coach had to sleep in the hall near the girls’ doors so that nothing would happen to them.
The kids were doing the right thing (sort of) in following their coach’s orders. But because the coach was corrupt, the 11- and 12-year-old girls suffered the wrath of adults who didn’t like what happened.
Thus, there was another lesson not learned, this time by the adults who did the threatening.
Sooner or later, adults have to learn to let the kids be kids, come what may. Sticking their nose into the kids’ sports efforts is only going to cause problems. Want proof? Ask any high school varsity coach who recently left that job.
Hopefully, through the lessons not learned by South Snohomish and the people who threatened them, someone will learn a lesson in what not to do when it comes to kids and sports.
The sooner the lesson gets learned, the better for all involved.
Chip Burch is a sports writer for The Daily News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org