Every August, teams from around the United States and the World arrive in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to play in the Little League World Series. With this tournament televised, kids grow up watching and hoping that one day they will play on that stage.
The fact is, the Little League World Series has become a must-see event on a big stage, where the actors are young kids, most of whom have never had this type of spotlight.
The question must be asked: is it fair to make these kids stars at such a young age?
Cody Webster was a 12-year-old Little Leaguer from Kirkland, Washington in 1982. The talented youngster was the team's star player and led them to the Little League World Series.
Webster, who was able to throw 75 MPH from a 45-foot mound, helped his team navigate through the tournament to the championship game vs. powerhouse Taiwan (Chinese Taipei). Taiwan had entered Little League baseball in 1969 and won 10 of their first 13 Little League World Series.
When Kirkland and Taiwan met in the championship game, it became a point of national pride for the United States win, because baseball was "Our Game." The game was nationally televised to hundreds of thousands of people on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" and was seen by thousands in person.
They all watched as Kirkland wiped the floor with Taiwan 6-0. The win by the kids from Kirkland became a point of national pride for many Americans.
After the Little League World Series triumph, you would have thought that the sky would be the limit for Kirkland's star Cody Webster, but that was not the case.
He went on to be a pretty good high school baseball player and played for a short period at Eastern Washington University, but he never was able to reach the peak that occurred for him during the 1982 Little League World Series. He has since faded even further into obscurity.
This is just one example of why it is not fair to make these kids into stars at such a young age. It's not fair for us to put the spotlight on these kids and allow them to reach a peak of success that is, in most cases, hard to ever get to again in their lives.
Especially considering that the peak is reached on a field with much smaller dimensions than the one they will be playing on for the rest of their lives.
People might disagree, but we use these kids for a couple weeks in August as entertainment, and when they are done, we don't care what happens to them. They are, in some ways, America's "throw-away heroes."
It's hard for a player to accept that the peak of his baseball success occurred when he was 12, and that no one cares about that anymore.
Playing in the Little League World Series is, without a doubt, great a experience for a young kid to have. This is the pinnacle of youth baseball.
The problem is, it is also the pinnacle of some of these kids' whole lives because of the exposure and fame they get by participating. The Cody Webster story is just one example of how some of these young stars fall to obscurity after they cannot reach the same peak they reached at 12 years old.
So America, let's turn down the spotlight down a little and let these kids just be kids.