A sign of the times

With another Little League season just recently wrapped up, it would be easy for the organization to take a couple weeks of vacation and reflect on the year.

But Little League has bigger fish to fry.

The institution recently announced its plans to introduce an education program for players dealing with performance enhancing drugs, which it hopes to have in place for the 2014 season.

“You definitely have to inform [kids] of what’s going on in the world and how it can hurt them,” said Berlin Little League President Bill Petit.

While not believed to be an issue in youth baseball presently, local leagues agree that something should be put in place to help inform young players of the dangers of PEDs.

“Any kind of drug awareness program that benefits children is certainly something that I think is definitely a positive move,” said Plainville Little League President Scott Stroh. “I would totally be for something that would educate children.”

The Little League news comes at a time of great uproar in the sport of baseball. Twelve Major League players were recently suspended for 50 games for their connection to Biogenesis, a Miami-based anti-aging clinic that supplied players with performance enhancing drugs. A thirteenth player –Alex Rodriquez of the New York Yankees –is appealing his 211-game penalty.

Petit, who has overseen Berlin Little League for 27 years, is concerned the extra media exposure may confuse youngsters.

“They’ve got to keep [PEDs] out of the media; keep it away from the kids and have the parents inform them,” said Petit. “If they still read about it, they’re gonna say, ‘Well, if he did it then I can do it. He’s my hero.’”

From stealing bases to stealing signs, and corked bats to steroids, the sanctity of the game has been compromised more and more over the years.

Meanwhile, to gain an edge on opponents, players have put their health on the line.

Some worry that mentality will seep into amateur baseball.

“Any kind of drug awareness program is beneficial to help educate children now to let them know that, ‘okay, these drugs might help you in the short term, but in the long term, they’re going to hurt you. They’re going to hurt your health, they’re going to hurt your whole life,’” said Stroh. “Absolutely I’m in favor of giving kids awareness.”

While there hasn’t been an official Little League release on the step-by-step process the organization will take to educate players, local officials are eager to hear the plan.

“It’s got to be a top priority,” said Petit. “It’s a top priority thing now, with steroids and stuff like that, because if players start doing it while they’re in high school and college, then they’re hooked.”

Little League has been working with the Taylor Hooton Foundation to help implement the program. The foundation was named after Taylor E. Hooton, a 17-year-old high school athlete from Plano, Texas, who took his own life in 2003 after using anabolic steroids.

Since that time, the foundation has worked to raise awareness of the dangers of performance enhancing drugs in young adults and athletes across the nation.

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