The dad of an aspiring young baseball player is upset that the opposing team intentionally walked the batter before his son. The father feels that the coach walked the team's slugger knowing that his son was weaker. The coach was picking on the weakling. His cry of injustice has been heard by the likes of Rick Reilly.
I've played Little League baseball and coached Little League baseball. I've had the hitter in front of me walked to get to me. I've intentionally walked a hitter to get to another. It is part of baseball, youth or Major League.
But wait, the kid who eventually strikes out is a cancer survivor. Now it is much more than a strategic move to get around the team's slugger. Now it is "society's incivility." The kid has already experienced the hard lessons of life, why does he have to be taught this one? What are we teaching our kids? Words like jackassery are tossed around because the kid is weak and was picked on.
Okay. Now, let's step back from all the emotions and try and look at this situation objectively. First from the view point that one of the main goals of Little League baseball is to teach kids how to play baseball. Intentionally walking a power hitter is part of the game. Ask Barry Bonds, David Ortiz, or Albert Pujols. All have been walked to get to the next batter, who, presumably, is less likely to come through with the hit. Strategically, the coach is making the right move.
Second, let's look at it through the eyes of society--the strong picking on the weak. What I see, is a father who has good intentions for his kid, but is just as mean as he believes the opposing coach is. The father expected his kid to fail because he was "weaker." The father placed this label on his own kid. Your kid surived cancer, he's not weaker. He might not be as good of a baseball player, but he certainly isn't weaker than the other kids.
Believe me, I hate to see people getting bullied. I've had words with other coaches who allowed their team to showboat or run up a score. In baseball, youth or Major League, there is a code of conduct for how to treat the opposing team when you are stomping them. And trust me, if a Major League team felt that they were getting shown up, you can count on a few fastballs high and tight. But in this case, I see it as a coach who is put in a no win situation. If he pitches to the slugger, and the slugger wins, he's let his team down on the athletic side of things. Those kids aren't going to know that the coach "did the right thing," whatever that means. They will remember losing.
And in doing what he did, he opened himself up to criticism that he is a mean ogre.
In terms of education, we must always walk this line. We live in a world that can't hurt anyone's feelings, even if what you are saying is the correct thing to say. We are teaching kids that it is okay to blame someone else for their failures. That society is uncivil if it beats you at something. We are teaching our kids that the world must accomodate them, instead of persevering. No one is smarter than another person. We are all equal in every way.