Little League on TV: 'The worst sort of reality television'
Televising the Little League World Series exploits the emotional fragility of the game's pubescent athletes, says Bill Plaschke at The Los Angeles Times
It's the most exploitative, incorrigible, and demeaning TV event that's airing this summer, says Bill Plaschke at The Los Angeles Times. No, it's not Jersey Shore, or even Bachelor Pad. It's the 65th annual Little League Baseball World Series. Currently airing on ESPN and ABC, these games "are the worst sort of reality television, turning 11-to-13-year-olds into adults, turning adults into kids," and "turning my stomach." What's ostensibly innocent summer fun turns into anything but as these children — years younger than any other athlete whose skills are televised and scrutinized — emotionally crumble under the pressure of an international spotlight. "Allowing the public viewing of pubescent angst under the guise of a baseball game is opportunistic, offensive and just plain wrong," Plaschke says. Consider these scenes from a typical Little League World Series game:
There is a scrawny pitcher who begins the game with eye black dripping all over his face. Then he gives up a few hits, and suddenly the polish is mixed with tears.
There is a stocky shortstop wearing sunglasses on his cap even though it's a night game. Then he screams at an umpire's call and drops a pop fly, and now the sunglasses are crooked, and he's trying not to look at his grandparents growing pale in the stands...
The cameras heighten the already incredible pressure and alter the already erratic behavior. The cameras needlessly deify and unfairly embarrass. The cameras change everything for kids who just aren't ready for it.