Written by Alysa RubinScroll down to see more content
Photographs by Alysa Rubin
Born in 1947, the Little League World Series is a late summertime American staple. The event often evokes memories of glory days and childhood. First broadcast on ABC Sports in 1963, the tournament is a testament to the game of baseball and the American Dream.
Today, the game has gone global. With teams traveling from as far as Taiwan, the Series boasts 20 teams—10 from the United States and 10 from around the world. The semi-final and championship series are broadcast worldwide on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC to millions of people. At the ballpark, crowds of up to 45,000 descend on South Williamsport to observe children experiencing the highs and lows of baseball.
While there are always winners and losers, there has been debate about the impact of sticking children in the
spotlight and expecting them to cope with adult human emotions. Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke criticized the series in an article, saying that the event manipulates children’s emotions. Comparing the pressure the children face to that of Major League athletes, Plaschke painted scenes of juvenile meltdowns, irate parents, and teary-faced child athletes.
The Poynter Institute, hired by ESPN, concluded in a report that not only do boys cry, but it is healthy and should be accepted for them to do so, especially at Little League age. It urged ESPN to confront these emotions and display them to the scores of fans following from home. While the adults are the beneficiaries of the tournament from a monetary standpoint, the event is an opportunity for the grown-ups to guide their young teams through success and loss.
This photo series captures the ebb and flow of young emotions in the limelight.
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