During the 2006 Little League World Series, broadcasted on ESPN, commentators may have inadvertently stuck their feet in their mouths – or they actually hold true that the World Series is a culmination of all a boy and his dad have been through together to get there, the pinnacle of all of the hard work and great times together. As the result of some of the commentary the mother of a boy and girl decided to let the ESPN management know how she felt, contacting the Ombudsperson through the ESPN web site:
“During the coverage of the Little League New England Final: the commentators mentioned that the Little League experience was a bonding experience for sons and fathers; that they have gone the distance, together.
Guess where I’m going with this…
As a mother of two children, who have participated in Little League and other Youth Baseball programs for the past 4 years, I take offense at the stereotypical portrayal of this as a father and son activity.
First, as their mother (though their father is an assistant coach as his work schedule permits) I am mostly responsible for getting my children and others on the teams to and from practices and many times games.
As their supportive parent, in attendance at as many games as my work schedule permits, I am their for my kids, the other kids playing, supporting a venture that, otherwise, I probably would not be supportive of – particularly, due to the gender bias that permeates Little League.
You see, we have a daughter that will no longer participate in Little League due the gender bias she experienced – which permeates the league as they encourage girls to only play Softball. Now that she is an accepted member of another Co-Ed Youth Baseball organization…where she is treated as an equal, and given the same opportunities to demonstrate her skill and commitment to her team (she was the lead run driver in last Spring’s season and selected by her team mates as a city-wide All-Star) as the boys, she has excelled in Baseball, to the point where she was selected for the Women’s Baseball League Sparks – an All-Star all-girls team that recently was the only team in history to beat an all-boys or co-ed youth Baseball team at the infamous Cooperstown Dreams Park.
As a family, still participating in the organization that disadvantaged his sister, our son also continues receives ample support from his family, including his sister who has been there, putting aside her own issues to support him.
Again, their father, a dispatched Little League coach, despite a great degree of frustration, due to the experience that his daughter, and other girls, have had to endure, is committed to the idea that Little League can be the place that they claim includes girls as their web site indicates, here.
But, it is my understanding that girls across the country are not encouraged to participate in Baseball, encouraged to play Softball, and if a girl shows up at a Little League sign up session they are not, generally, informed that Baseball is an option for them, despite the overwhelming numbers of girls participating in Softball.
Check out the summary of a survey taken in the mid-west, here.
If you want to see the actual survey, then contact the author at that web site.
It may seem that I’m grandstanding. But, Major League Baseball makes efforts to include girls and women in Baseball, yet not as equal participants. Everywhere that a girl or woman is mentioned these days it is to promote the effort to keep the revenue stream coming in – but not to find a way to include girls on the field in the great American pass time: with hardball in hand.”