Win or lose. We just want to play. According to the Aspen Institute Project Play, the average child spends less than three years in sports, giving up by age 11, most often because the sport just isn’t fun anymore. With the Little League Region Tournament and World Series in full swing, Little League and ESPN have teamed up to launch a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign aimed at addressing the rise of win-at-all-cost behavior from parents, coaches and the negative impact on kids who just want to have fun with the sport.
“The majority of adults in youth sports are in it for the right reasons, but we want to use our platform to highlight the negative impact that the behavior of overbearing parents and coaches can have on a child’s sporting experience,” said Liz DiLullo Brown, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Little League and a mother of two. “Our two new PSAs, created in partnership with ESPN, address this important topic, reminding us that children are the most important beneficiary of a positive youth sports experience. Little League International is proud of all the adult volunteers and caregivers who do it the right way on flights around the world, but it’s time to address directly the need to support our players and their experiences when adult behavior creates a negative environment.”
The launch of these two new PSAs, which will air during the 340 Little League games broadcast on the ESPN Family of Networks this summer, coincides with the release of the new Little League Diamond Leadership Training Program. Created as part of the Million Coaches Challenge created by the Susan Crown Exchange to train a million coaches to improve youth sports experiences, the Diamond Leader Program is a free educational experience for Little League coaches and volunteers. This digital training focuses on giving Little League volunteers the tools they need to support the social and emotional aspects of youth sports, in coordination with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play. The The Little League Diamond Leader Program launched as a pilot program this summer and is expected to be rolled out to all Little League volunteers in 2023.
Filmed in the Darien (Connecticut) Little League with players and league volunteers involved in the production instead of child actors, A tale of two coaches PSA (view) follows the back-and-forth of two Little League teams. One coach takes a win-at-all-costs approach while the other focuses on providing a positive player experience, showing the impact of these two approaches on their respective Little League players®. The The kids have had enough PSA (view) follows a team’s reaction to an opposing player’s father berating him behind the fence.
“We’ve been proud to work with the Little League on their PSAs for the past few years and were intrigued when they presented us with these ideas for this year’s campaign,” said Jeffrey Byrd, senior writer/producer for ESPN. “Working with long-time collaborator Barrett Esposito of Winter Films, we were thrilled to partner on these two pieces that we hope can have a positive impact on improving youth sports experiences.”
The PSA campaign is the latest in Little League’s efforts to continue to promote a player-centric experience across all 6,500 leagues in more than 80 countries around the world. Over the past three years, in addition to launching its new Little League Diamond Leaders Program, Little League has enhanced its free resources at Little League University; bring yours to life Little League Sandlot Fun Days Program, unstructured, player-driven gameplay; improve yours Girls with game an initiative celebrating women’s participation; and is recognized for Aspen Institute Project Play Champion.
“Countless children are introduced to youth sports through Little League, and the adult volunteers who support this experience bear a great responsibility for fostering their love of the game and instilling the life lessons that come from participating in sports,” said Nina Johnson-Pitt. Senior Executive Director of Little League Strategy and mother of three. “Thanks to support from the Susan Crown Exchange through the Million Coaches Challenge, we are eager to roll out the Little League Diamond Leader program as one of our newest initiatives to help provide our volunteers with the support they need as they give back of their children in their community. This PSA campaign evokes the all-too-real experiences our kids are having in youth sports today, and it’s more important than ever for Little League to lead the way in improving the behavior of adults on fields and courts around the world.”
To watch these new PSAs, be sure to tune in to the 2022 Little League Baseball and Softball Region and World Series Tournaments on the ESPN family of networks throughout the summer, ending with 75th Anniversary of the Little League Baseball World Series on August 17-28. For more information, including a complete game schedule and TV listings for each game, be sure to visit LittleLeague.org/WorldSeries.