For Little League Baseball Champs, a Big-Time Victory Tour

Filed under: In The News, Amazing Kids

The Blue Bombers celebrate their Little League World Series victory. Credit: Denis Poroy, AP

Several weeks back, a talented bunch of kid ballplayers from Chula Vista, Calif., reached what many consider the pinnacle of youth sports. They won the Little League World Series.

For those 12- and 13-year-olds, it turned out that defeating Taiwan in the championship game -- as 40,000 fans watched in Williamsport, Penn., and millions more tuned in on TV – didn't end the joy ride. It was more like a start.

Since returning to Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb, the baseball team has been on an impressive victory tour. Some highlights: The boys had dinner with San Diego Padres stars Edgar and Adrian Gonzalez at a restaurant that honored the Little Leaguers by naming menu entrees after each player. They've been guests on NBC's "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."
Maybe most impressively, the city of Chula Vista held a joyful rally in their honor; 10,000 people showed up waving little American flags as a high school marching band belted out fights songs and the players rode in to a local football stadium on shiny red fire trucks.
Even going back to school turned into a memorable adventure for the Little Leaguers. At one campus, spirits were running so high that, according to the San Diego Tribune, the local police were on the scene to "hold back the surging middle-schoolers.

All of which raises some pretty interesting parenting questions, such as: How much adulation is enough for an adolescent, even one who has just had a major sports triumph? And a follow-up: As adults, how do we see the fine line between enough and too much?
The coaches and parents in Chula Vista aren't the first Little League families to be grappling with this issue. A few years ago, when Warner Robins, Ga., won the Little League World Series, the red-carpet treatment went on for months. Highlights included a guest spot on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," attending a shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center, flying in an Air Force plane, taking batting practice with the Atlanta Braves and being introduced before Atlanta Falcons and University of Georgia football games.

That was all prelude to being invited to the Oval Office to shoot the breeze with President Bush.

The parents and coaches of the Warner Robins players did draw a line. When an offer came in for the boys to be guests of honor at a professional wrestling match, they replied, "No thanks."

ParentDish sports reporter Mark Hyman is the author of Until It Hurts: America's Obsession With Youth Sports and How It Harms our Kids (Beacon Press). Have a suggestion for an article on youth sports? Contact Mark at pdyouthsports@aol.com

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