by Jeffrey Stinner
(Hunterdon County, NJ)
I wanted to reach out to you and get your opinion on an issue I am dealing with. I am the President of a Youth Baseball League with approximately 700 players. I am dealing with an issue right now where I am taking some heat. I wanted to get your opinion on this matter. We have a father in the league who is pushing for his 8 year old baseball player to play in the major league division amongst 12 year old and in some cases 13 year old players. This 8 year old is very talented and yes he is even better than some of the kids in the Majors. However, he is 8! I have a moral and ethical problem with this. The Ripken website suggests Majors Division should be 11 and 12 year olds. Our league has 11,12 and a select few 10’s. Now some want to let this 8 in. I am worried about the ramifications if this kid gets hurt. People on the outside will not look at his abilities, but the fact we let an 8 year old play with 12 and 13 year old players. I also believe kids 12 and 13 years old talk about things not appropriate for an 8 year old. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for playing up but there you have to draw the line somewhere. The reason I am emailing you is to get your opinion. This is a serious matter and could effect this kid and our league in general. Please let me know your thoughts.
North Hunterdon Youth Baseball
COACH HENZE’S OPINION
Thanks for asking this question on MYB. Greatly appreciated.
To make a long story short, I totally agree with you! As a league and as adults on the board, you must do what you feel is best. You stand behind your policies and an individual player/parent should not sway your policies. If you want to have a discussion about changing the policy in the future, there is a time for that.
In my opinion, there is no 8 year old in the country that should play with 12 and 13 year olds. I can see a very talented player on a 10U team, but nothing more. Safety issues come to mind first. Secondary issues are emotional development and what precedence your league would be setting for future kids…
What do I mean by precedence? Well, as soon as one parent sees that another kid can play up 4-5 age levels, he will see his son in the same light and push for his kid to move up. These types of things are contagious because so many parents have ridiculous dreams for their kids that haven’t even been alive for a decade…
Ask yourself these two questions… 1) What “could” happen if you didn’t allow him to play up to that high of a level? 2) What “could” happen if you don’t allow him to play up at that high of a level?
I think by asking yourself those two questions, you will come to the conclusion you already know. He should NOT play up that high. He could get injured. He could be exposed issues that 8 year olds aren’t developmentally ready to deal with. Your league could end up having more and more parents pushing for this…
Lastly, I just want to remind you that what you do on the board is very important and you must look out for what is best for the entire program. Thank you for what you do. Keep the game of youth baseball simple and fun. Do not allow adults to ruin it for the kids.
BTW… I am going to send this out to my newsletter recipients for their thoughts.