The Little League World Series is in full swing, and in my opinion, ruining programming on ESPN for the next few weeks. But while I don’t watch it, enough people must, because I heard that the tournament makes in between $20-30 million. However, these kids are in a situation similar to that of our nation’s college athletes, in that 0% of the revenue goes to the kids.
With college athletics you can make the claim they are getting paid with a free education (that most of them don’t even want). However, with the Little League World Series it is pure exploitation. The kids show up for a couple of weeks to provide hours of entertainment for ESPN and then fade into oblivion with this cycle repeating annually.
Another way colleges do more for the athletes is by giving them a necessary platform for them to show off their talents to professional leagues. The same thing can’t be said for the Little League World Series. Only a very small percentage of those players ever play professionally and scouts don’t care about the games major leaguers played when they were ten. In other words, once the Little League World Series is over these kids have no way to cash in.
I don’t have a perfect solution. You could give the winning team college scholarship money. You could offer prizes straight up. You could give players appearance fees based on how many games they play. But, what I do know is that it’s a clear cut example of exploitation.