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Running head: KEEPING SCORE 1

Keeping Score

Jillian Grantham

Grantham University

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Abstract

Proposed changes to Little League scoring policies can seriously affect the elements that make

this game not only popular, but beneficial to the children who play the game and the families

who support them. This article explores the proposal of a local little league to develop a no-

scoring policy, the reasons behind such a decision, and the potential outcomes of this plan.

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Keeping Score

Little League is an immensely popular sport. With several leagues scattered across the

country and the world, it is one sport that continues to grow in popularity. As Michael

Bamberger reports in his article, “The Kids Are All Right”, “Little League International is by far

the biggest youth baseball organization in the world, with 2.1 million boys and girls under the

age of 13 playing in 104 countries. Ripken Baseball is a distant second, with 600,000 boys and

girls playing in the U.S. and five other countries,” and these are only two leagues out of many

(Bamberger, 2002, para. 5). Through these youth organizations, players learn the value of hard

work, collaboration, focus, and so on. Yet in April of 2009, the Little League commission in

Silverton, Kansas proposed a change to the decades-old tradition of keeping score, a move that

could hinder the positive effects the local Little League organization has had on the community.

According to the proposal, the elimination of scoring will help children and their parents focus

on the intended purpose of the game: participation. Citing unnecessary stress in children, the

commission hopes to change the League’s approach to children’s baseball within two months.

While the reason for the proposed change is worthy of attention, the commission should

reconsider such a dramatic shift in this beloved pastime. Without evidence of a correlation

between the children’s stress and the scoring system, the League might be correcting a

nonexistent issue. The League should also consider how players’ parents will react to the

change. The commission’s proposal could result in uprooting years of Little League tradition as

well as the loss of important childhood lessons about effort and reward.

Evidence should be provided to the community to demonstrate precisely how the scoring

system is contributing to children’s stress and how the removal of the system will alleviate that

stress. Children experience stress for dozens of reason, and most of those reasons have very little

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to do with baseball. Many children feel pressured about their school work and need extra

attention academically. Often, children experience bullying or have trouble making friends. In

some cases, children are exposed to an unstable environment at home. The community should

focus with certainty on the proven culprit of its children’s stress. Removing the Little League’s

scoring system without any benefit might cause even more stress, and it will most likely prove to

be an undesirable option for parents.

Many parents remember playing in Little League themselves. Established in 1939, the

League has a rich history that many modern-day parents were involved in as children (“The

Federal Incorporation,” n.d.). Understandably, parents want to pass their childhood joys to their

children while simultaneously reliving some of those experiences. The emotional intensity

parents experience when they have a child in Little League is challenging at times but ultimately

rewarding. Cheering for their children, consoling them after a loss, celebrating after a win,

bragging about accomplishments to friends and relatives: These bonding experiences will be

altered almost beyond recognition without scores, and parents might be reluctant to part with

them.

Similarly, parents will be reluctant to part with what is currently an excellent educational

experience for children. Little League is centered on the game baseball, but it’s more than a

game. When these teams of children practice, they understand that the skills they’re perfecting

will soon be put to the test. When they’re up to bat, they understand that focus is imperative.

When they run, they run with all their might because, otherwise, they disappoint their teams.

And when they win, they know that all their efforts were not in vain. In this moment, especially,

they learn the value of hard work. This learning process might sound intense for a child, but it’s

important to prepare future CEOs and engineers and bankers for the demanding world they will

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soon face. The instinct is to protect children until they’re adults, but the consequences of

unprepared adults waiting around for their trophies might be harsher than the rules of children’s

baseball.

Little League teaches children cooperation and discipline while offering hours of fun, and

it creates a focal point for families to come together. Little League is, in many parents’ minds,

an icon and a testament to a simpler time. A dramatic change in the structure of the game could

change the way people perceive its purpose. The commission is right to address the issue of

stress in children, but they should investigate the cause more thoroughly. The commission

should prove that the League’s scoring system causes stress in children before making such a

dramatic change to this beloved game.

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References

Bamberger, M. (2002). The kids are all right. Sports Illustrated, 97(9), 48.

The federal incorporation of little league. (n.d.). Little League Online. Retrieved from

http://www.littleleague.org/learn/about/historyandmission/federal.htm