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The Magic of the Little League World Series
For the Love of the Game!

I think we'd all agree that the world today is very complicated and just plain confusing at times.
It seems that the United States is more divided than I can ever remember. People who are
supposed to be Leaders are not civil towards one another. That cynical eye is everywhere,
looking out toward an ulterior motive.   Harry Truman made the comment that when he opens
the newspaper, he goes first to the Sports section. His motivation being that he wanted to hear
about human achievement and not the depressing news of the day, (at least not initially). Of
course this was over 75 years ago, and even the sports world is now filled with greed, scandals,
cover ups, and performance-enhancing drugs.
I've seen a Positive Light in the midst of all of this negativity. It's The Little League World Series
in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The logistics of the Tournament are the following: In the United
States bracket, there are teams from eight different regions throughout the Country. Â These
eight teams have earned their spot in Williamsport by winning their section, division, state, and
region. There is also an International side of the Tournament. The U.S. and the International
sides remain  separate and only the winners face off at the end. It's a double-elimination
format. The final four will be known by this weekend, August 24 and 25. Both the U.S. bracket
and the International bracket championship  games will be played on Saturday with the two
winners playing each other in a true world competition on Sunday. All of the Little League
World Series games are shown on ESPN. However the final weekend's games are on ABC.
I haven't mentioned one very important item. These players are 11 and 12 years old. Even
though most of them are small, they are very talented and play this game really well.
They are fundamentally sound defensively. Frequently they make amazing plays. Mostly
because the players don't want to let down their teammates nor their coaches. Refreshing isn't it.
They love being part of a team. Just to make it to Williamsport, all of these teams have
"won" a lot. Coaching at this age makes all the difference. The common thread here is that
every coach is very positive. They motivate their players by encouraging and focusing on the
"positive". Kids this age get down on themselves quite a bit. The coaches are there to say,
"You can do it", and always praising with a, "Good job". Â Just as important, all of the coaches
preach "sportsmanship" as a pillar of the game. This positive approach leads to bringing out
the best in these young players. This coaching method also is very contagious even with the
international  teams.
Yes these players are all competitive and want to win. However they will all tell
you that perhaps the best experience is meeting and getting to know players from the
other teams throughout the United States and the World. They all live and sleep in the same
dorm building. It's certainly not a hotel. It's more like a barracks. They have a large recreation
room with ping pong tables and video games. There's also a large swimming pool. When
they're not playing, there's always plenty to do. Mostly the youngsters like to hang out and
have fun.
This Sunday I witnessed an event that can only be explained as "magical". In conjunction with
Major League Baseball as of two years ago, a MLB game is played on the Sunday,
one week prior to the championship of the Little League World Series. This is a tremendous
Public Relations move on the part of Major League Baseball. This year The Pittsburgh Pirates
and The Chicago Cubs faced off in the MLB Little League Classic, (the game is played in a
nearby Minor League stadium). The professional players arrive in the morning and travel
straight to the Little League complex. The MLB players mingle with the Little Leaguers. I think
the Pro players, a few who have played in this when they were Little Leaguers, have an even
better time than these excited youngsters. It's difficult to describe. It's an amazing time all
over. All of the ESPN crew is there joining in on the fun. MLB players are over joyed about the
opportunity to play in Williamsport. The Boston Red Sox and The Baltimore Orioles have
already been selected to play next year, and I imagine are thrilled. This event just gets better
every year. This year there were a lot of players having an awesome time in this fantastic
atmosphere. However I think Anthony Rizzo was this year's star participant. The entire
experience for him must have been the time of his life. Â I believe that you mix all of these
ingredients and "Magic" takes place. Â Make an effort to tune in on Saturday and/or Sunday and
experience some of this for yourself.

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