The Diamond Anniversary of Little League® Was Unique and Priceless
By David Jacobson
Positive Coaching Alliance
It’s no stretch to state that last month’s Little League Baseball® World Series captivated the nation, maybe the world, unlike any other youth sports event in history. Even through clouds of negative news shrouding the world of sports in the weeks since the event ended, the Series helped shine the light of a bright future.
It could be coming from Mo’ne Davis’s smile or her blinding fastball. It could be a twinkle in the eye of New England Region Champion Manager David Belisle. It could be the beacon of urban baseball embodied by Jackie Robinson West Little League.
Clearly, hundreds of thousands of players, coaches, parents and volunteers over the last seven-plus decades have made Little League’s diamond anniversary one worth celebrating. But never before have individual players, coaches and teams risen to such prominence. And, refreshingly, for all the right reasons.
Take Manager Belisle, who plucks the heartstrings of anyone who cares about children or sports or both? His postgame speech after Rhode Island's elimination, turned his players’ tears of sorrow into tears of joy for all watching on ESPN and viral videos across the Internet. (Talk about web gems!) Mr. Belisle set an example for every coach in the world – youth sports or otherwise – on how to handle a loss with class and how to help players process that experience in a way that helps them grow. What more could Little League ask for?
How about the team that handed Rhode Island the defeat that prompted Belisle’s speech? Jackie Robinson West Little League, drawing players from some of Chicago’s most impoverished areas, provided hope and evidence that circumstance need not be a barrier to achievement. With a performance that galvanized neighborhoods where children are too often victims of violence, Jackie Robinson West accomplished nothing less than reawakening in many a sense of the value of young human lives.
Then there was Mo’ne Davis. Any pitcher of such singular talent commands attention. But a girl. An African-American standout in a time when Major League Baseball leaders fret over diminishing African-American participation. Who is incredibly poised and mature. Who may inspire millions more to follow in the footsteps that led to her unforgettable image being emblazoned on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
There is so much at stake in youth sports, so much potential to change our world for the better. Thank you, Little League, for showing so many the light.