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ESPN exec: no 'qualms' about Little League overexposure

Chula Vista, California, and Taiwan have advanced to

Chula Vista, California, and Taiwan have advanced to Sunday's Little League World Series championship game. (August 29).

In olden times, the Little League championship game was a once-a-year novelty on ABC in which cuddly, innocent 12-year-old Americans got hammered by their Taiwanese counterparts, and that was that.

More recently the Little League World Series has become a mini-series that fills hours of TV time in the quiet of late August and puts a national spotlight on prepubescent boys.

It's kind of nutty, no?

The other day I asked John Skipper, ESPN's executive VP of content, whether he has any "qualms" about putting children in that position.

"'Qualms?' No," he said. "We're pretty comfortable with it. We spend a lot of time with the Little League, talking to them. We spend a lot of time with the kids, with their coaches, with the parents.

"And overwhelmingly we get feedback from all of them that they love it, that it's a positive experience.

"We meet with all our on-air guys and we say, 'Guys, these are kids.' We're not going to have the same level of replay. We don't show things that embarrass kids. You'll never hear us say, 'That's a catch a third baseman should have made.' They're kids. And it's a celebration.

"So 'qualms?' No. Are we cognizant they're kids? Do we try to take special care? Absolutely. By the way, the ratings this year are through the roof. Part of it is comparable to last year, which was the Olympics. But it's ahead of  '07 and '06. And we did unbelievable ratings on Staten Island."

Tags: ESPN

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