Youth baseball: Develop or profit? Toxicity from innocence

CLAREMONT, CA - 1975: Robert Mezy, a Little League Baseball coach (left), chastises a player for making an error in this 1975 Claremont, California, (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
CLAREMONT, CA - 1975: Robert Mezy, a Little League Baseball coach (left), chastises a player for making an error in this 1975 Claremont, California, (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) /
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7th May 1930: A megaphone helps the coach to catch the players’ attention at the start of a baseball season in Stamford Bridge, London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
7th May 1930: A megaphone helps the coach to catch the players’ attention at the start of a baseball season in Stamford Bridge, London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images) /

When you mix billions of dollars with the hearts of parents, you are brewing a toxic concoction that can explode at any moment buried deep within the youth sports culture.

I took on this project with a bias to the blatant harm the toxic culture that surrounds youth baseball, and youth sports as a whole, but ended coming out of it with a heightened sense of awareness to the passive-aggressive harm we can inflict on our children.

As I laid out this story, I was ready to blast the bullhorn blaring, top-of-the-lungs screaming abusive parent. However, I ended up with introspection.

The angle that was approached with this project was from a father and a coach. I have dealt with “that parent” and I have had to be cognizant of not being “that parent.” All parents of young athletes have to toe the line of supportive and smothering. It’s amplified when you are coaching that athlete, especially in a sport you played and loved.

Two names came to mind as the best options to start this conversation with. The first was Jason Hirsh, the ex-Colorado Rockies pitcher and current founder of FAST Baseball Development and Arm Care, but most importantly father of an athlete. The other was Andy Lindahl, a long-time coach and lacrosse player, and currently one half of Kreckman and Lindahl on Altitude 92.5 in Denver, also an athlete’s father.

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