Michael Tunison
The Sporting Blog
March 9, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Matt Carmel is a father and small business owner in Maplewood, New Jersey. Last year, he entered his 10-year-old son in the local Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken baseball league. The kid must have had a good go of it, because when the next season was about to start, Carmel sent a letter to the league’s committee asking if he could sponsor a team, using the name of his business.

The committee overwhelmingly voted against his request. The reason being that his business is a firearms dealership called Constitution Arms.

“Arbitrary, capricious and unfair,” Carmel said of the perceived slight. “I don’t like being pigeonholed.”

In an 8-1 vote, the volunteer committee said thanks, but no thanks.

“I voted against it,” said Craig Gruber, secretary of the committee. “Personally … given the nature of that business, I’m certain there’d be quite a bit of contention. We don’t need the headache. … We have our hands full with deciding whether infield fly rules should be in effect for 9-year-olds.”

The committee, Gruber said, hasn’t taken up-or-down votes on sponsors, at least in his seven years’ experience. But this time, Constitution Arms caught its eye.

“My sense was the backlash would be extraordinary,” he said.

To Carmel, the rejection flies in the face of the perception South Orange-Maplewood, which share a school system, is a proverbial big tent open to all ideas.

“Only if you agree with them,” he said. “But if you don’t, the tent is not that big.”

Sorry, buddy. If the Washington Wizards can’t go back to being the Bullets, I doubt anyone can avoid the freakout of having kids associated with a sports team sponsored by a gun store. Anything gun-related combined with kids is going to be contentious enough to cause a major stir among the among parents in the league. While there’s no inherent danger of having a gun store sponsor a little league team, there could be negative fallout for the league if they allowed it to go forward.

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