WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Sports fans around the world are gearing up for this year’s Little League World Series – the annual baseball tournament pitting 11 to 13 year old boys against one another for the entertainment of an international audience.
George Callow, an Executive VP at ESPN, who broadcasts the exploits of pre-pubescent children to millions of homes in dozens of countries around the world, said it’s a great way for viewers to reconnect with their youth. “Personally, I haven’t spent this much time scrutinizing children since I was living in my windowless van,” Callow said. He went on to clarify that he was in college working as a camp counselor at the time and there was a housing shortage.
“Plus it makes for great TV. When you get some footage of one of them crying over a loss that will sting for the rest of their lives?” Callow added. “Ohhhhh, that’s the money shot right there. That’s what televised sports is all about.”
Little League World Series President Stephen Keener said that while the major leagues have changed over time, the mission of the LLWS has stayed the same. “This is all about growth and having fun,” said Keener. “And when you consider that we make almost $10 million off of the labor of kids who haven’t even hit middle school – yeah, that kind of growth is a lot of fun.”
“But we really hope the boys go out there and give it their all, because the last thing we need is another dip in the Neilsens,” Keener admitted. LLWS Championship Game ratings were down from a 2.1 share in 2011 to a 1.9 share last year.
While the benefits of holding a tournament where literally hundreds of children will walk off the field in failure may not be readily apparent, the coaches think this is an important step toward adulthood. “Just look at my son, [11 year old] Mikey Jr,” said Westport CT coach Mike Witry. “Right now he is the only one of his peers to throw a curveball, so he thinks he’s hot shit. I figure, let him have his moment in between his paste-eating phase and discovering girls – because at that point he will have no interest in baseball whatsoever.”
Mike Sr. also added that Mikey Jr. was thrilled to be traveling from tournament to tournament all summer long instead of hanging out with family and friends. Mikey Jr. was in a media training session and unavailable for comment.