Little League has been around since 1939, which means at this point there are several generations who have grown up playing Little League. Parks around the country continually fill their baseball diamonds with children every summer, and crowd the first and third base lines with parents in folding chairs.
Little League just seems like a fundamental part of childhood, holding onto our imaginations while other sports and trends tend to come and go. So what’s the enduring appeal? Why does Little League seem to be a universal part of growing up in America?
Part of it has to do with the benefits that kids get from playing Little League baseball. Of course, the game itself is a fun pastime, but there are plenty of crucial skills that children work on when they’re playing baseball.
- Children have to learn patience, how to pay attention to the game, and when to focus themselves on the field. These are all essential qualities for a ballplayer, but they also spill over into many other areas of life. Learning to be a little more disciplined on the field can translate to better focus in the classroom or at home, too.
- Kids also get a lesson in communication every time they step onto the diamond. A baseball team that doesn’t communicate well is a baseball team that won’t be winning a lot of games. Little League gives kids an opportunity to build those communication skills and socialize with other children. They have to learn to work together as a team to win.
- That brings us to another benefit of Little League—instilling the idea of teamwork and cooperation. In some sports, one or two great players can completely change the game. In baseball there isn’t the option to pass the ball to a better teammate when it comes your way. Each player is involved in the game, and they all have to learn to work together and encourage each other in order to win.
- Unfortunately, not every team can win every game. That’s another lesson that Little League teaches children. It’s okay to lose sometimes, as long as you’ve given it your best effort. It’s a gentle way to prepare them for inevitable disappointments that will come their way later in life. Little League teaches kids that it’s how you react to a loss that really matters.
The kids probably aren’t thinking about the life lessons that they’re learning on the diamond, but looking back, they’ll see some important, character building moments in their childhood.
Parents who have played Little League themselves realize this, and that’s why they continue to encourage their kids to play.
Did your kid get a trophy this year from Little League? If so, that’s great! But if the team didn’t exactly end up on top of the division, then maybe another reminder of the season is in order. Instead of a participation trophy, why not have the team and coaches sign baseballs for each player instead? It’s a great memento for the players to have as they get older, and they’re easy to protect and cherish for years to come!