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I was watching ESPN coverage of the Little League West Regional Final between Belmont of Northern California and Eastlake Little League representing SoCal.  In the 4th inning ESPN Showed a 2 line graphic:

 

WINNER GOES TO WILLIAMSPORT, PA

LOSER GOES BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING

Seriously, ESPN?  Try hanging that graphic on the loser of the BCS Championship.  Try hanging it on the loser in the seventh game of the NBA Finals.  Try hanging it on Tiger Woods ever.  I have worked graphics with ESPN during championship events. You just don’t do the above because you have class and respect.  NoCal had a bad game tonight but they defeated SoCal two games earlier.  They played with determination and character.  So that some second string graphics coordinator in the ESPN truck could make a joke.

In 1982,  I was on the field as a photographer when my Chula Vista South Bay Little League lost 3-2 on that field in that game to Kirkland, WA, the eventual Little League World Series Champion.  I rode home on the bus with parents of players.  They were talking about a group of heroic boys who had won 13 games in a row.  The issue of Back-to-School sales at Target did not come up.  The players on that field tonight knew the stakes and knew what the scoreboard meant.  They played with pride and class.

Normally, ESPN works with the same pride and class.  Not tonight.  Those teams were playing their hearts out while ESPN is running commercials worth tens of thousands of dollars shown to a national audience in prime time.  And the Chyron guy treats it like a bunch of kids on a playground pretending to be major leaguers.

Northern California had a bad game and lost a tough one.  They will shed some tears and return to championship form and lead teams to future championships.   ESPN will continue to do good work in the future.  But tonight, the Worldwide Leader in Sports had a bad game and this time, it was due to lack of trying to be the best.

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