BeLocal Mt. Airy is local citizens group in Mount Airy, Maryland actively seeking to strengthen our town’s sense of community, sense of place, and local self-reliance. Our motto is “Grow. Play. Shop. Act.” which encompass both the local-first thinking and the wide-range of initiatives which emerge from a grass roots approach to listening to the residents of Mount Airy, MD.As I read their website, I began to realize that BeLocal and Four County Little League have some of the same goals and dreams. If I read it correctly, their idea is to "think local first" and in doing so will strengthen our community as a whole on many levels. What does this have to do with Four County Little League, you might ask? Since I started with FCLL, I have been proud of the fact that the organization is family oriented and stands apart from others by doing more than just teach baseball. We teach our players life lessons through baseball. Most of the players in Little League will never play past high school baseball, but all of them should grow up to be productive citizens and contribute in some way to our society. Having said that, the goal of teaching them how to together be a team, overcome adversity and winning with honor is our legacy.
There are three words on the Little League Logo; Character, Courage and Loyalty. Loyalty is defined, "as state or quality of being loyal...a feeling of allegiance." Belocal is saying, Be Loyal. Be Loyal to the local shops in Mt. Airy or Be Loyal to the architect in town. Well, Four County is saying, Be Loyal and Local to our league. We have so many incredibly talented players who's parents have sold them this glorious notion that they will go further if they play for this team or that team. We have players in Mt. Airy living in Carroll County who play in Frederick. We have other players in Mt. Airy on the Frederick County side who play for Howard County. Some have even been recruited to play in Finksburg. This does not make any sense what so ever. Why are these talented players not playing for the local Little League?
Playing for teams outside of your local reach has so many negatives and so little positives. Some folks feel that playing with a select team will give them a better opportunity to get a college scholarship. What do our friends at the Positive Coaching Alliance say about this? Well, if you have been to the training, you will know that the average athletic scholarship is somewhere in the $2000.00 range, so I don't think that is going to work. Your best bet is to study harder and go for an academic scholarship. The fact is that college recruiters are not watching our 10 to 14 year olds anyway, so what's the deal? If the players stayed local and played with their home town team, they would increase the talent and make their home town team the select team. Stephen Keener, President and CEO of Little League Baseball, says...
Because of the misleading comparison between tournament-hopping travel teams, and the “Road to Williamsport” traveled by Little League International tournament teams, critics claim the tournament is detrimental and contradictory to Little League’s mission.
In reality though, those who support travel ball are in many cases fulfilling a self-serving goal by seeking out a “higher level of competition” for the expressed purpose of supposedly increasing their child’s chances of landing a major college scholarship, or professional contract. (taken from "Too much baseball is not a good thing")What does it say about a coach who will go to the ends of the earth to pick up or find a player? What happens when he finds a new and improved better performing player? Guess what, your player is out. If you stay local and play for your local Little League team, you never have the chance of being pushed out by a "ringer". Most of the select or travel teams have no rules about playing time, so in some cases you spent all this time and money to travel to all these different games and your young player might not even get a chance to play. How is that going to help him/her get a scholarship? You are better off having him/her play with Little League which has playing rules which ensures every player plays on the field.
Look at what these teams are doing to our ever eroding family life. Many of these select teams play in tournaments which are several hours away and often times require over night stays in hotels. This requires more money, time off of work and days away from our family. Oh you are going to bring the whole family? What happens when your 13 year old and your 9 year old both want to play sports. Guess what...you are going in separate directions. By playing for your local Little League team, you have a better chance of ending up at home in the evening laughing and talking about the game that day while having a burger with the entire family.
When you go to the Mount Airy Fall Fest and see Knill's farm market selling their fruit, we often times feel good about the local fruit being produced. Mr. Knill did not go to the port of Baltimore to get his fruit. He got it from his own farm. He cultivated the land, planted the seeds and grew local fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a sense of pride in what the Knill's have accomplished. This might sound strange, but Four County Little League is no different. We cultivate our young players. As they grow, they learn more and get more competitive. We don't travel around looking for other ball players to play with us. We harvest the best fruit here in our area. Then we showcase our talents each summer. Last season our 9/10 team placed 3rd in the state. Every one of those players came from our local area. We have boundaries that we can not cross. We can't take a player from Frederick who is best friends with one of our coaches and ask him to play. It just can't happen. Other organizations have no rules. They take what they want and leave the rest. This attitude by others hurts every one of our local players, the teams and our league. The idea of Being Local makes complete sense in so many ways.
This article came about because of information provided to me by someone at BeLocal. It makes total sense to me and I can see how thinking local first should be primary. I know some might be offended by some of my words. For those who are inside our local Four County Little League Boundaries, I encourage you to think about the possibilities of what we can do as an organization if we come together. You have a choice to look outside for answers or BeLocal and Be Loyal. Four County Little League is Mount Airy's home for Little League Baseball. We are proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to the day when everyone can BeLocal.