Tampa and its suburbs, 'the biggest, fastest-growing youth-sports league franchise in the country,' and 'what the marketplace truly wants'
Did you read Drew Harwell's story on 1A on Saturday? Five things I underlined:
1. Everyone plays; everyone gets a trophy.
2. Inclusive, low-conflict sports are in; heated competition is out.
3. Every team member plays the same amount, regardless of talent.
4. ... to protect the other children's self esteem, there are no MVPs. Every player is given a sportsmanship award, a participant award and a celebratory icon in their online i9 "Trophy Case."
5. "... we do our best so that every kid gets to score a goal."
Now a few thoughts: This giant, successful organization is built on temporary, mostly empty, largely unearned feel-good back pats, right? What the i9 founder says about the small chance kids have of playing pro or even college sports is totally true. It's also not the primary consideration, or shouldn't be. I was far, far from some cutthroat kid athlete, but what I learned from playing youth sports was where I ranked on the totem pole, so to speak, and that there was one, and not just on the baseball field or the soccer field but in every field, and not just in sports, and that ultimately your stiffest, most important competition is with yourself. And honest assessments from coaches -- even when it hurt to the point of hot tears I tried to hide -- helped me understand that. So how are these leagues helping these boys and girls who are at least in theory preparing to live in an even more networked, even more connected, even more competitive world in which more people, in this country and everywhere else, will be fighting for less stuff?