All-stars was not made for everyone

June 30, 2002|by MARK KELLER

Once upon a time, every Little League in Washington County had one all-star team. Just one.

This all-star team, made up of the league's 14 best 11- and 12-year-old players, represented its league in the Maryland District 1 Tournament.

Those 11- and 12-year-old players who didn't make the team? Well, sorry ... I'm afraid you just weren't good enough.

As for 9- and 10-year-olds ... keep practicing, keep improving. You'll get your shot when you're 11 and 12.

This has all changed in the last few years, however. Now, nearly every kid who puts on a uniform is deemed an all-star in one form or another.

There are the 9- and 10-year-old all-stars, who began their district tournament on Thursday.

There are 11-12 "B" all-star teams. Heck, some leagues even have 9-10 "B" all-star teams.

Has anyone been left out?

The little leagues have jumped on the bandwagon of political correctness with this one. We just can't have a kid feeling bad about himself because he's not as talented as someone else is on the baseball field.


So, let's make him an all-star. That'll solve everything.

Well ... no, not really.

My brother is 31/2 years older than me, so as a kid, he was my measuring stick. I gauged my accomplishments against his.

In junior football, I scored a touchdown ... he didn't.

I win.

In junior basketball, I once scored 15 points in a game ... he didn't.

I win.

In little league, he hit four home runs ... I hit none.

He wins.

AND he was an all-star as an 11- and 12-year-old.

I only made it as a 12-year-old.

He wins again.

However, that makes me no less proud of the fact that I made the all-stars at age 12. In fact, not making the team as an 11-year-old only made me more determined to be on the team when I was 12.

Hey, I had to measure up somehow.

The point is a kid has to shoot for something. There's not always going to be a consolation prize ... a "B" team.

If your kid is one of four people in the running for two accounting jobs, guess what ... he's not going to be put on the "B" accounting team if he doesn't make the "A" team.

I used to have issues with the 9-10 all-star teams, but I've come around on that one. There are probably enough quality 9- and 10-year-old players at most leagues to fill an all-star team.

But "B" all-star teams? Especially for 9- and 10-year-olds? There just are not enough kids at that age who know the game well enough and play it well enough to be called all-stars.

And 7- and 8-year-old all-stars? Don't get me started.

There are always one or two kids left off of an all-star team simply because there are a limited number of spots on the team. It happens every year, probably at every league.

It even happens at the major league level. Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada and Omar Vizquel have all-star credentials at shortstop in the American League this season. Likely only three will make the team.

The other two ... tough luck.

Is a kid going to be upset about being the odd man out? Absolutely.

Is it going to damage him for life? Absolutely not.

Is it going to help prepare him for life? Real life? Definitely.

Not wanting a kid to feel bad is normal. Pandering to them in order to spare their feelings is only a short-term fix.

No matter how much we want to protect kids from the heartaches and hard times in life, we need to let them experience some of those heartaches. Because those heartaches are a part of life.

Kids need to be taught at this age that they will not always be winners.

They will not always be an all-star.

They will not always be one of the best at everything they do.

Otherwise, they learn those lessons at a much later age and they don't know how to deal with the emotions.

So let the all-star tournaments play on ... and enjoy them. There is some good baseball being played there.

But let's not call all of them all-stars. Those who were selected to represent their league in the district tournaments are the real all-stars.

And to give other players in the league the same distinction lessens the accomplishments of those who earned it.

Mark Keller is a sports editor The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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