Not ready for prime time

If you visit the blog much, you know that I am under the illusion that I have something useful to say about youth sports. Almost thirty years ago, I covered the Little League World Series, as an intern at Newsday, and while I enjoyed it then, I am uneasy about what it has become. I am uneasy for similar reasons about the media’s growing fascination with ranking high school sports teams. Alissa Quart, author of Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child has written an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times that articulates my principal concerns. An excerpt:

“Youth competitions can certainly have positive effects. They can expand children’s social worlds, make them feel less isolated and give them a sense of mastery and discipline. But when TV cameras are added to the mix, the stakes can change. At televised competitions, I have seen children turn their faces away from the cameras so that their tears wouldn’t be visible — the pathos of the losers when forced to confront the winners being filmed. Even some of the winners responded with self-consciousness. Watching this happen in real time convinced me that high school football games, spelling bees and other pageants and competitions of youth should be witnessed in actual fields, halls and stadiums rather than on television sets. ”

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