Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Pee Wee League Scalpers

Before America loses itself in another stellar performance enhanced baseball season I remind the readers that American ballparks are not the only place to pay $7 for ten ounces of beer. I recently made it out to RFK stadium in DC to see the next youth movement, Freddy Adu.
In all fairness to American soccer, this is the best option. Immortalize a player that actually is the age of the core audience, fourteen. If the soccer community impaired Freddy from playing at higher levels, he may have lost interest in the game and tried catch or throw something.
MLS is the wave of the future. Yes, I just said that. I was sitting at the DC United game and whenever there was an announcement, the stadium would here it ten seconds later in Spanish. It is refreshing to know that at least one sport in America recognizes the most recent census results.
However, what are we to do with these kids? This is becoming a recurring event. News from high school newspapers that some recent grad from Puberty High is going to forego four years of higher education and random hook ups for a six plus figure income.
This is just a test, with these “extreme” cases of youth athleticism. Our society is ok with these fourteen-year-old phenoms playing professionally mainly because they are athletes for secondary (if that) sports. Golf and Soccer are probably as nationally popular professional billiards and bowling when they first started to attract obese Middle America.
Golf and soccer? We are more than willing to sacrifice these sports’ reputation for the chance for improvement. The kicker is not watching an absurdly talented youth competing. The joy comes in watching a player young enough to play in a father son/daughter tournament beat the snot out of well trained and conditioned
When does this get really exciting? I want to see a fourteen-year-old football player, or better yet a NASCAR driver. Imagine that media hype. Mom has to ride in the car, since they would still be on their learner’s permit. The kid would not be afraid of a wreck since the human body can repair three times faster than a thirty-year-old (not a scientific statement, just a guestimate). This would be the greatest metaphor to perpetuate the circle of life.
Soon we will have to buy tickets for our children’s little league games. Not the LLWS, but the regular joe polyester uniform league. The other danger in this craze to make a pubescent juggernaut is the parents. Now the other parents of the solid yet not phenomenal players will go even blinder on the reality of their child’s mediocrity.
Youth sports are a society where there are two types of athletics. The local and the traveling teams were distinguishable like they were the jocks and the greasers. How far we have mutated the summer dream of excelling past their peers. It has become the goal to surpass their parents’ peers. The same kids that used to say “my dad can beat your dad…” are now saying, “well my son can beat… you.”
Parents of young children now take the smallest flicker of innocence as a foreshadowing of innovation. “Little Billy can toss a whiffle ball from the porch to his dad in the swimming pool. Tomorrow I have him meeting with a coach for his batting stance, never mind the fact he is only five.” When exactly does a parent discover this genius or athleticism? Somewhere between playing baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant and thumb sucking, perhaps.
In moments like this, I wonder where is Doogie Howser? Not Neil Patrick Harris but a genius doctor that is barely old enough to drive his Porsche. Maybe the genius doctors are smart enough to realize their cash cow will come soon enough. Maybe the intellectual deities are afraid to have their journey with zits and braces made into a public spectacle. Maybe there are child labor laws that only apply to those who can be liable for mistake not a missed goal. Regardless of the law we will exploit them, after it is all for the children. Mommy and daddy know best and now they get 17%.

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