The Winslow Little League will hold their opening day ceremonies on Saturday at the Little League Field. Several hundred young Winslow players are expected to participate. The league offers programs for children who are not even old enough to start school in its tee-ball league and continues to serve our youth until most are ready to graduate from high school.
Little League is not a panacea and the kids who play it are not guaranteed to remain trouble-free and behave like angels. However, these children are occupied with wholesome activities during much of their free time as they practice or play Little League baseball or softball. While they are so engaged, they are not participating in criminal or destructive pursuits.
Several years ago, know-nothings made fun of the mid-night basketball programs in some of our larger cities. The truth is that those programs worked. Kids who are provided with activities that they enjoy will do those and not become a police problem. The programs helped, just as Little League does. The thing we need to remember is that they are just one tool in the attempt to keep our children involved in activities that are good for them and the community and away from those that are not.
Little League is not perfect. It is a human institution and subject to all of the shortcomings so prevalent in human endeavors. There will be complaints that the competition is not balanced, that some players receive preferential treatment, that some parents and coaches are rude and try to intimidate the umpires. All of those problems and more have arisen in the past.
It is worth noting that most of the problems cited happen because adults take Little League too seriously and are willing to do some questionable things to win or get their way. We adults should take heed and think before we act or say things we may someday regret. We should also give more than lip service to the notion that winning is not everything. In fact, perhaps the most important lesson most Little Leaguers will learn is how to lose with dignity. That is even more important than learning to win gracefully, which is also important and is a lesson that apparently eluded some of our professional and collegiate athletes.
Adults are a necessary evil in the Little League program. We should be and are grateful to those who volunteer much of their precious time to work with our kids. Still, it is worth remembering for all of us that the program is for the kids and not the coaches, parents or the fans. Little League works wonders in the development of many of our youth, but others have serious negative experiences. Those working in this program and even the parents and fans need to remember that it is in their hands whether each child has a positive experience or not.