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Kids playing kids' games inevitable for TV
 

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Kids playing kids' games inevitable for TV
 

Truth be known, I'm officially part of the problem if you think there is one.

It's either be that or be part of the solution, which I never have been accused of being.

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So I must be part of the perceived problem in which the ESPN family of networks -- including ABC now -- telecasts all those kids' games.

If teenage football players weren't running across my TV screen this weekend, preteen baseball players were.

My complicity was that I watched too much of it and don't feel guilty at all. I finally gave up fighting this losing battle.

Some probably believe it was distasteful that Glenbard West and Wheaton Warrenville South renewed their football rivalry at 11 o'clock on a Sunday morning for the greater good of ESPN2.

I'm an old fuddy-duddy but am not going to be an old fuddy-duddy over this.

Kids are growing up in the information age. Everything they do the rest of their lives is liable to be documented by some camera or another.

So while back in my day high school was too soon for football players to be on TV, now Little League might be too late for baseball players.

Malt shops and bobby socks are history. Just don't tell me what replaced them, please, because I don't think I could bear to know.

Young athletes aren't the concern here. They might be more resilient than adults are no matter what happens to them.

If a kid fumbles away a victory on national television, he'll be down only until a cheerleader agrees to go see "Fright Night" with him.

The real concern is the unemployed middle-aged man in rural Colorado who took Wheaton Warrenville South, gave the points and lost a couple of thousand dollars he didn't have.

And the elderly woman in suburban Omaha who skipped church to scout potential recruits for her beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers.

And Orel Hershiser, the former major-league pitcher who said this while previewing the Little League World Series title game: "(Suzuki) has the size, strength and discipline that Japan brings."

Size? Strength? Discipline? We're talking about a 12-year-old, right, not Ichiro?

I could understand me watching Glenbard West's victory over Wheaton Warrenville South because it was local.

The attraction wasn't the same as being there. Prep sports are all about pageantry, emotion, intimacy none of which TV can capture.

Yet this game was nearby enough that I watched as if it were the Super Bowl.

What frightens me a little about myself is that on Saturday I watched a high school football game between teams from faraway Florida and Alabama, and a Little League game between teams from farther-away Japan and Mexico.

(If memory serves, the Japanese team beat the Alabama team and the Florida team beat the Mexican team, though it's all a blur.)

Anyway, winners and losers don't matter when coaches mold our future leaders.

All that matters is how they play the game along with whether ESPN has enough programming to keep poker off the air for a few hours.

Toward that end expect a TV near you soon to feature ESPN's coverage of an eating contest between 2-year-olds.

I'm not sure that even I could stomach watching that.

Then again, maybe I could considering that I'm now officially complicit in ESPN televising so many youngsters' sporting events.

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