Josh Levin thinks Little League is a sham. Why?

Every year, the big kids beat the ever-loving crap out of the little ones.

A tour of the Little League record books shows that, for an American team, success is found by riding on the coattails of a hypertrophic hulk-child.

When the next hulk-child comes along, a Little League official needs to stand up, on a chair if necessary, look him in the eye, and tell him to go play somewhere else. By knuckling under to a few dominant players, Little League implants a lasting lesson in the heads of the millions of youngsters that play in its leagues worldwide: The big kids always get their way. It’s only fair that, for a year or two, normal-sized kids should get a chance to feel big. That is, before they get cut from the high-school team.

Well, gee whiz. Isn’t that pretty much how sports works? The most gifted athlete dominating the competition seems to be the essence of sports. At any level of football, for example, the biggest, strongest, fastest guys have a huge edge over those not blessed with those attributes.

Indeed, this is the nature of life, period. Is it fair that only kids with high IQs and quantitative abilities can grow up to be physicists?

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John says:

    Well, you should note that professional sports like football, basketball and baseball all have “affirmative” action built into their system so that the weak teams have a chance to catch up. Without it, the sport would be grossly dominated by a few big, powerful, kick *ss teams. And they know that this is really, really bad for the sport.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Well, not so much Major League Baseball. With the exception of the amateur draft order–which, unlike the NFL and NBA drafts is almost meaningless–MLB does virtually nothing to spread the wealth of talent.

    The NBA has a salary cap, which has the affect of inducing a certain amount of parity, but its rationale is entirely economic.

    Only the NFL has a system truly aimed at parity. And even there, the teams with the biggest, fastest, strongest guys in key positions tend to dominate the competition–it’s just that it’s difficult to accumulate and maintain those players for more than a few seasons.

  3. John Lemon says:

    I think it is about time some professor needs to stand up, under an electron microscope if necessary, look our little genius in the eye and tell him to go calculate partial derivatives somewhere else … like the English department.

  4. James Joyner says:


    It would only be fair. I mean, geez, he’s really screwing the grade curve for the rest of the kids.

  5. John Lemon says:

    Oh, and I like the whole idea of having a hypertrophic hulk-child. Despite the lack of size in my extended family (and in Mrs. Lemon’s too), my son now towers over all other three-year olds around him. To keep this momentum going, I think I will run out to the local GNC and buy some hypertrophic creatine powder and hypermetabolic steroids. This will be in addition to the current weight training program I have him on. Then, in ten years or so, I will let Josh Levin stand up to my kid and tell him he can’t play.

  6. Paul says:

    Without it, the sport would be grossly dominated by a few big, powerful, kick *ss teams. And they know that this is really, really bad for the sport.

    hmmmm- The NFL only went after parity in the last few years. Indeed, it grew to be the biggest of all the major league sports ON THE BACKS of a few power kick ass teams.

    (in VERY rough chronological order) The Packers, Steelers, then the 49’ers with a whole bunch of Cowboys in there. Those are the teams that mde the NFL the NFL not the namby pamby “I can’t play my tooth hurts” product they put on the field today.

    Far from it being “really realy bad” for the sport it made it great. Today football is reducted to a lotto system. Every year some team gets lucky and wins everything. Next year that team will struggle to make the post season.

    Rather than pull for stars year after year, you need a score sheet just to see which team they play for this week.

    THAT is bad for football.