I should make it very clear that I love sports. I enjoy playing them, watching them, officiating them, reading and writing about them and, to a lesser extent, coaching them. However, with that love of sports comes a recognition of their place in life.
      I will be the first to mock angry softball guy who wears eye black, baseball pants with stirrup socks, batting gloves on each hand and is very intense about a beer league softball game. Not far behind on my list of scorn is the 12 handicap golfer heaving his club into the water hazard after chunking a shot. He should be used to it…
      And I will admit coaching can be frustrating. Things that come easily to me might not be as smooth and natural for those I try to teach. That is one reason I only coach adults…I know I would not be a good choice for coaching young kids who are more likely to make a misplay than a good play.
       Too bad Mark Downs felt different. He was coaching some 8 & 9 year olds. Now, if you have ever had the misfortune of watching kids that age play, you know the norm is bad throws, few catches, and lots of plays that COULD be made that no kid comes close to. At that age you see kids sitting down in the field when they get bored, throwing rocks, and so forth.
        Downs however thinks they should be a little better than that. And when an autistic kid wasn’t good enough, he did the only thing he could…he offered another kid money to bean the autistic kid.
       Little League should be about getting exercise, having fun, learning fundamentals, and learning sportsmanship…not learning to exclude inferior players. It is questionable if the sentence was stiff enough…not just because of the damage done to one child, but because of the lesson taught to every player in that league about not just baseball but life.
     This is one of the most shameful stories you will ever read. At least Downs learned a lesson from it…oh…wait a second…”I didn’t do nothin'”…have a nice time in the joint, dude. Couldn’t happen to a classier guy.

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