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How much does Capitol City care about baseball in D.C.?

If one were to read the complete Official Regulations and Playing Rules published by Little League Baseball, one would find no mention of the term “slaughter rule.” In fact, the rule actually reads “If after four (4) innings…one team has a lead of ten (10) runs or more, the manager of the team with the least runs shall concede the victory to the opponent.” Like so many other terms thrown about in our society, “slaughter rule” merely reflects the demented values of the individual who chooses to use it.

Although we all strive to win, I’m very unclear as to why someone would devote an article (Cheap Seats, “They Are the Champions,” 7/26) to discussing the “slaughtering” of a team of young boys, when there are much more positive events to celebrate.

For the past year, I have been a volunteer assistant coach in the Northwest Little League. Unlike Ann Kane (president of Capitol City), I do it for the sheer joy of watching kids learn the game of baseball in a fun environment. I do not have kids in the league, nor expect to anytime soon, and am actually a junior at the American University. This summer—despite working two jobs—I have volunteered to help coach the team that was discussed in the pitiable article. Unlike Capitol City, our team does not practice for three hours a day, every day, because our coaches fully understand that baseball is game that kids play to have fun, especially those aged 11 and 12. Even more important, those involved in Northwest Little League respect that most kids are involved in many other activities and view baseball as one of many hobbies that draws their attention.

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The article begins by presuming that Capitol City has already won the district tournament, but for those familiar with the citywide event, it is common knowledge that the winner is determined after a team has won five games, not one. It is curious that Kane, as someone who champions baseball in the city of D.C., would feel the need to completely disrespect and disregard the seven other teams participating knowing full well that there were still games to be played.

What is most disturbing about the article is the way in which it portrays Little League baseball. Instead of celebrating the well-executed performance of a very good team, this article focuses on the “slaughtering” of another. I was always taught to be gracious as a winner, and, like other Northwest coaches, I spend a good amount of time teaching our kids that winning is unimportant as long as they are having fun and doing their best. Little League baseball is about teaching kids how to play this wonderful game, and in a larger sense, it is also about teaching kids how to play the “game of life.” Those involved with youth sports should be less concerned about winning and more concerned about teaching kids the value of hard work, discipline, teamwork, and perseverance. But most important, Little League baseball, and youth sports in general, should be a place where kids can have fun in a safe environment.

Finally, I would like to address some clear misconceptions given by Kane. The “dominant” Capitol City Little League was not divvied up by the powers that be in Williamsport, Pa. Rather, a conscious decision was made by some concerned parents in 1992 to break away from Capitol City to form their own league (which became the Bethesda-Chevy Chase League of Maryland), where kids would be taught to play the game in the correct manner. Northwest Little League (and no doubt the other six leagues/teams involved in this tournament besides Capitol City) is strongly committed to developing all the kids who sign up to participate and provides all the players with the opportunity to strengthen their baseball skills. Our players are taught that, although winning is great, hustle, intelligence, and teamwork are even greater. The team representing Northwest in this tournament is not made up of special, selected all-stars (each player in the league was invited to take part in the summer team) but of kids who wanted to continue playing the game that provides them with so much joy.

It is a shame that the editors of the City Paper let such ridiculous self-promotion by Capitol City mar an otherwise enjoyable experience.

Assistant Coach

Northwest Little League