D) Youth baseball field
If you chose D — in this case McKelvey Park, a county ballfield administered by the City of Mountain View — you'd sadly be correct.
That's because the traditional Little League pledge, adopted in 1954 as a response to the Red Scare, starts with those words, and our Mountain View affiliate asks players to recite them — despite the national organization not requiring the ritual.
So, on Sunday at McKelvey my fifth grader will stand proudly in his baseball uniform while an adult stranger asks that he proclaim his faith.
Is that OK? The president of Mountain View Little League says it is. Indeed, he told me that in five years I'm the only one to object to the pledge, and that when he told my concern to his board of directors they voted unanimously to keep the tradition.
How can that be? Surely, there are baseball parents who would leave religion off the field.
For starters, there are agnostics and atheists for whom the pledge must be an affront. Studies by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life show that 12 percent of Californians either do not believe in God or have doubts about whether God exists; in secular Silicon Valley, that number is surely higher.
Then, there are the families of all faiths — like mine — who expect their kids' religious observance to be conducted at home or in houses of worship, by teachers of their own choosing.
Finally, there are those of us who think no one — certainly not a child — should be compelled on a public stage to address his or her religious beliefs or lack of them. This doesn't happen in soccer, basketball or football. Not in gymnastics, dance or karate. At a professional baseball game, are we asked about God? Of course not.
No, it's only in Little League where adults in charge have this power. If I want my son to play — if he wants to join his friends who already are in the league — we have no choice but to subject him to the pledge. Or to feel like outcasts.
And making us feel like outcasts is the end effect of what MVLL's president offered me — by suggesting my son not say those words or just not attend the ceremony. Sure, those are options, but humiliating ones — options that speak to exclusion, not the inclusion I'm sure Little League would want to project.
MVLL, are you sure you want to treat us — all of us — this way, especially when altering the tradition by leaving out one line, as other Bay Area Little Leagues have done, would be so easy? Why is it so important to you in 2013 that our little sluggers, born long after the Cold War ended, continue to say these words when all they really want to do is just play ball?
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