A (power)house divided

Jul. 12, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Abraham Lincoln put those words to paper in 1858, but the 16th president, and possible Rutherford County native, was far from the first person to express that sentiment. Jesus gave the same message to His followers in Mark 3:25.

Since then, many writers have used the phrase to promote the idea that strength comes from unity. Now it’s my turn.

Rutherford County needs to combine its little league programs. I know this is not the most popular thing to say and the masses of parents are ready to throw aluminum bats, but hear me out.

Combining the little league programs, at least for all-star tournaments, would benefit the young people in this county in many ways. Two, however, stand out above the rest.

Most importantly, it would help to break the color barrier. No, I’m not talking about black and white but gold, blue, and red. These lines not only divide the county but neighbors and families also. From their earliest age, All-Stars are cast in one of these colors based on where they live. Why must these kids battle each other? Why can’t they play together?

The simple answer is prejudice.

Parents have a hard time letting go of those old high school rivalries. They just can’t stand to see little Sally, Dick or Jane sporting red and black if their loyalties lie with Chase.

I saw this phenomenon first hand on Sunday at the Chase vs. Rutherfordton game. Family and friends shared pleasantries with one another, but as game time approached, people segregated themselves into factions along each baseline. Not a single royal blue shirt was seen mixed with the gold, or vice versa.

What kind of message is that sending to the players? We should be showing kids how to come to come together, not separate.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Chase, East, and Central rivalry, but that should wait until high school. Until then, players’ biggest rivals should be, Cherryville, Polk County and Boiling Springs, not each other.

To use the sentiments of another famous speech, I have a dream that one day children in red uniforms, gold uniforms and blue uniforms can come together and call each other teammates.

Aside from unity, another benefit of combining the all-star teams is that Rutherford County would be competitive on the state, regional or even the national level. This is more than a mere prediction. I’ve seen it happen over the past two years with the Jr. League softball team. Players from each district have come together and won the state title for Rutherford County, not Forest City, Chase or Rutherfordton. Last year, they nearly qualified for the World Series in Washington State.

Rutherford County is a powerhouse for baseball and softball. Can you imagine the success we would have if all divisions combined their teams? Who knows, we might even see Rutherford County on ESPN one day in the Little League World Series. But that won’t happen if the talent is continually divided into three teams.

Little Leaguers, think about it this way. Rutherford County is the Power Rangers of Little League. Yes, the red, blue and yellow Rangers are awesome by themselves, but they can be beaten. What happens when they come together as a team and morph into a Megazord? Nobody can stop them. I say it’s “morphin’ time.”

I can hear the critics now. “If there is only one team, everybody won’t get the chance to play.” While I agree that everyone should get the chance to play little league, that’s what the regular season is for.

All-star tournaments are not meant to be all inclusive. They are reserved for the best players and not every kid can be the best at baseball or softball. That’s how the real world works. If a player isn’t good enough to make an all-star squad one year, then it should provide them with motivation to work harder, get better, and make it next season. That hard work will make the all-star experience even more rewarding.