Today’s WaPo has an interesting story that reminds me of just how many folks today take themselves too seriously.
In this story a father from Alexandria umping a Little League game is uncertain about a call, making one call and then overruling himself. When he realizes he is uncertain of the right call, he contacts Little League and is told he cannot have a copy of the rules because he is not in the class of folks in the organization who need to know what the rules are:
“Little League told him that its rules were not secret, just restricted to those authorized to see them — not the first time he’d heard that argument. Among other things, the league frets that unlimited access to its rules would allow competing leagues to dupe parents into thinking their children were playing for the one true Little League. So only two copies of the rule book go out to each sanctioned team and others are provided upon a showing of genuine affiliation and need.”
When offered his own copy (at cost), said parent declines saying the rules should be open and available to all parents. He goes on to say he has a secret classification and works in the E-Ring of the Pentagon and can handle secret information. The Little League is not impressed:
But Little League spokesman Lance Van Auken seemed unmoved by Hilferty’s frustrations. “There is no way we can give special treatment to someone just because they are in the Pentagon,” he said. “We don’t give preferential treatment. Everybody has to abide by the same rules. The books are available through the proper channels — someone in the military should know that.”
The WaPo goes on to suggest that LL is not just teaching its traditional sportsmanship, but also about secrecy that is carried out by the Bush Administration.
The ruling/issue at hand?:
A ball struck third base and rolled wide, and Hilferty, as acting umpire, was unsure what call to make. He declared it foul, then reversed himself when challenged by another dad.
Before we go on, please note that the challenging father is correct…if a batted ball hits a base it is fair, even if it rolls foul afterwards. That is the really sad part of this whole thing. Rules of play in baseball used to be part of the fabric of everyday life in this country…and now it is not.
Moving forward, let’s count the various levels of silliness here…
a) That the father escalated to Little League International when there were intermediate steps to go with in the first place. Apparently he looked on line and in a sporting goods store, and found nothing. The thing is that what he is dealing with is a rule of baseball, not just little league-and as such the proper statement of the rules is found in numerous places online. This is not a rule of organization-and confidential to LL-but a rule of baseball that has been in place for generations.
b) That LL won’t put out the official playing rules for official use by parents. They have used copyright laws to shut down at least one site where the rules were listed. This reminds me of how Weight Watchers has brought copyright actions against numerous websites offering spreadsheets of handheld apps for tracking WW points. What in the world is the harm of putting out a copy of the rules of play for players and parents? I really see no harm in it…and ultimately how can the Little League expect players to play and not make the rules readily accessible to them?
c) On a slow news day the WaPo in its continued disdain for George Bush presuming to say that the Little League position is teaching children to keep secrets. After noting situations where leagues did not allow the competing children to see copies of scouting reports or what their draft position was-something designed to not hurt players feelings and has been a policy for at least forty years, the WaPo them bloviates the following opinion:
In a society steeped in secrecy, Little League might just be the perfect training ground for any number of careers. In August 2001 the Little League Hall of Excellence inducted a former catcher for the Cubs of the Midlands, Tex., Central Little League. His name: George W. Bush. He is the first Little Leaguer to become president. The venue and stakes may have changed, but arguments over secrecy persist, whether to call fair or foul.
My goodness. Little League a perfect training place for the Bush White House?
A slow news day, which offers up the chance for the WaPo to show not only how desparate some writers are for a subject, but to show the truth of a college professor who once told me,” In church or acadmic politics, the fighting is more vicious because the stakes are so..small”.
Looks like we can Little League baseball to the list.