Mike Matheny has a blog dedicated to changing the culture of youth sports

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A few years ago Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wrote a letter to the parents of the little league team he was coaching at the time, decrying the culture of youth sports and, more specifically, the overbearing parents and insane coaches that were turning what should have been character-building learning experiences into a hyper competitive hellscape.

Last summer there was a lot of reporting about all of that. Specifically, that Matheny was still adamant about changing the culture of youth sports. And now he is continuing that, starting up a blog on his personal website dedicated to that cause. From his welcome letter:

I wrote a letter a few years ago that unintentionally went viral across the country. The purpose was to explain to a group of parents, that I saw a big problem in organized sports. Little did I know the impact that the letter would have on so many people. I realized that there is a need for a better way, and the ideas in that letter had struck a cord with many people who are ready for a change. Some follow up was necessary, so…, here we are.

This website is for people who want to use youth sports to impact kids and their communities. I plan on keeping fresh information and videos coming to this site that will challenge and encourage coaches, parents and aspiring athletes to use sports as a platform to develop character, and skills that are needed for success on the field and off. Thanks for your interest and I hope that you will keep coming back.

That’s pretty cool. And a pretty cool goal too. As a parent of kids just getting into various activities, I’m constantly shocked at how seriously everyone (i.e. parents) takes them (and it’s not just for the boys and sports. You should see the ballet studio Mookie goes to). There are many times I have hoped that my son in particular doesn’t get too into sports because of that noise. Which is kind of a shame because when I grew up I was able to play — and not be particularly good at — various sports without it seeming like I was an imposition or that some more talented kids’ dad was gonna freak out if slow old me was allowed to get some PT at his son’s expense. I worry now that’s something harder and harder to find.

So kudos to Matheny. Parents of non-participating kids can wring our hands about this sort of thing a lot, but not much will come of it. It could be a totally different deal if the necessary change comes from within sports rather than from outside of them.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.