Darien players, coaches featured in PSAs which will run during Little League World Series

Photo of Scott Ericson
Public service announcements which will run on ESPN throughout the Little League World Series were filmed in Darien with players, coaches and volunteers from the town’s Little League program.

Public service announcements which will run on ESPN throughout the Little League World Series were filmed in Darien with players, coaches and volunteers from the town’s Little League program.

Contributed / Darien Little League /

No local teams reached the Little League World Series this year, but there is a team from Connecticut that will be featured prominently throughout the international tournament which begins Wednesday in Williamsport, Pa.

Public service announcements which will run on ESPN throughout the tournament were filmed in Darien with players, coaches and volunteers from the town’s Little League program.

The PSAs features the 12-year old team from Darien and their head coach Shawn Ryan, who also serves as the president of Darien Little League.

“The kids loved being a part of the process and I think they have an appreciation for all of the work that goes into producing a commercial,” Ryan said. “On the flip side, I think they were a bit surprised how much of it goes unused and how much of the day goes toward setting up the next shot. A 10 hour day compressed into two, thirty second spots.”

Ryan said Darien was chosen after ESPN’s creative team scouted several locations around the state before picking Darien’s McGuane Field.

The Darien players and coaches were happy to spread the message preached in the PSAs.

“I think that in this day and age of my kid must succeed at all costs in whatever they do, we forget that they are kids playing a game and that this should be a time in their lives when they have fond memories of sports, not a stressful time in their lives,” Ryan said. “I think the spots were also very representative in that it is not only the coaches, but the parents who are the ones that almost always over step their bounds. I think we can all benefit from a little bit of perspective. The value is in making friends and being a part of a team, not what your batting average is.”

The PSAs are titled “The Tale of Two Coaches” which focuses on the back-and-forth of two Little League teams. One coach takes a win-at-all-costs approach, while the other focuses on providing a positive player experience, showing the impact of those two approaches on their respective Little Leaguers.

“The Kids Have Had Enough” follows a team’s reaction to an opposing player’s father berating him from behind the fence.

“We have been proud to work with Little League on their PSAs over the past few years, and we were intrigued when they presented these ideas to us for this year’s campaign,” ESPN Senior Writer/Producer Geoffrey Bird, said in a press release. “Working with long-time collaborator Barrett Esposito of Winter Films, we were excited to partner on these two pieces that we hope can have a positive impact on improving the youth sports experience.”

Little League is running the PSAs in hopes of keeping more young athletes on the field while addressing the negative impact of the win-at-all-costs behavior of coaches and parents.

According to the Aspen Institute Project Play, the average child spends less than three years playing a sport, stopping by age 11, most often because the sport just isn’t fun anymore.

“The vast majority of adults in youth sports are in it for the right reasons, however, we want to use our platform to highlight the negative impact that behaviors by overbearing parents and coaches can have on a child’s youth sports experience,” Little League Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Liz DiLullo Brown said. “Our two new PSAs, created in partnership with ESPN, take on this important topic, reminding us that the kids are the most important beneficiary of a positive youth sports experience. Little League International is proud of all the adult volunteers and caregivers doing it the right way at fields around the world, however, it’s time to directly address the need to support our players and their experience when adult behavior creates a negative environment.”

Little League is played across the United States and in more than 80 countries around the world and hopes the message reaches those who need to hear it.

“Countless children get their introduction to youth sports through Little League, and the adult volunteers who support this experience have a great responsibility in fostering their love of the game and instilling the life lessons that come from participating in sports,” Little League Senior Strategy Executive Nina Johnson-Pitt said in a press release. “Thanks to the support from the Susan Crown Exchange through the Million Coaches Challenge, we’re eager to roll out the Little League Diamond Leader Program as one of our newest initiatives to help provide our volunteers with the support they need, as they give back to their children in their community. This PSA campaign calls out the all-too-real experiences our children are feeling in youth sports today, and it’s more important than ever for Little League to lead the way in improving adult behavior at fields and courts around the world.”

ESPN will be broadcasting the Little League World Series, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, from Aug. 17-28 across all of its networks.

sericson@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports