Little League Follies: This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

John McCloryAnalyst IMay 23, 2008

Each week Sports Illustrated features its "Sign of the Apocalypse", which typically involves some type of outlandish happening in the realm of sports—a bizarre superstition or incredible feat, for instance.

The general idea is that someone has gone too far, hence the impending apocalypse.

The May 26th issue did not disappoint. In fact, the latest issue ousted each "Sign of the Apocalypse" before it and raised the bar or, perhaps, lowered it. Either way, It's safe to say the Antichrist is knocking at our door.

In Freetown, Massachusetts, a seven year-old boy was benched at a Little League baseball game because—get this—his mother was a no-show at the concession stand.

The boy's mother, Jodi Hooper, said she failed to fulfill her duties because she couldn't get time off from work.

Sounds like a reasonable excuse, right? Right?

Well, not for the head of the Freetown Youth Athletic Association, Dave Brouillette. He stated that concession stand revenues are necessary to fund the league's programs and, well, rules are rules.

Parents are required to show up for their concession stand assignment or risk the suspension of their children. Brouillette said that he was unable to see his own son play because he had to cover the shift for Hooper.

It seems parents have found a new way to shatter their children's Little League dreams with their own discrepancies. At least this one didn't come to blows like so many before it. Perhaps it takes time to evolve from verbal confrontations to physical beatings, which are a YouTube staple.

Of course, all this is pretty surprising, but is it shocking?

Let's see: a dash of thick-headed parental figures, mixed with a money-driven society and an ultra-competitive and ever-serious sports climate.

Nope, not shocking at all. Quite standard, in fact.

Of course, there has to be a slight scapegoat to bring to the forefront of a suddenly brash sports society.

ESPN personalities, such Woody Paige and Jay Mariotti, raise their voices to new decibels and all but slash each other's throats as they incoherently debate a spring training baseball game between the Orioles and Royals, as well as other sports-related topics that carry no relevance whatsoever.

Not enough proof that the pizazz has been snatched from the modern sporting world? Okay, fine.

Author Buzz Bissinger recently appeared opposite Editor Will Leitch on an episode of HBO's Costas Now. The topic was contemporary sports media, and Bissinger lit into Leitch almost to the point of cardiac arrest.

Bissinger went on a 20-minute tirade conveying his objection to blog profanity by utilizing a series of f-bombs.

Maybe the last two tangents were a bit of a stretch in relation to a kid getting unfairly snubbed at a Little League game. But it certainly fits right in with the growing seriousness of our sports culture.

Does it really matter who's to blame? I hate to sound like a walking, talking public service announcement, but aren't the children the losers in this mess? Wasn't little Jimmy Hooper (or whatever his name is) the one who got cheated out of—what could've been—a memorable experience?

And what did he gain?

Absolutely nothing, except a piss-poor example of petty, money-grubbing "adult" problems, which he somehow paid for in the end.

I understand that in order for Little Leaguers to participate there has to be no shortage of funds, but how about directing the punishment toward someone over the age of seven? Impose a harsh fine or send out a nasty letter.

Heck, slap Jodi Hooper's hand till it turns bright red.

Or how about getting really crazy and coming up with new means of revenue? Obviously, some creative soul came up with the ingenious concession stand idea. Maybe they're brimming with more methods of piling up the dough.

The Freetown Youth Athletic Association is in need of some serious rule changes. Let me be the first to propose a rule in which the kids don't get the shaft as a result of an empty concession stand.

It'd be nice to get through an issue of SI—or any sports publication—without stumbling across something pertaining to an over-the-edge sports incident.

Maybe the heart-warming, good-natured, yet entertaining stories are the rarest of all nowadays.

But if you discover one buried deep beneath the disheartening and discouraging, consider it a sign of the apocalypse.


    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

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    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report