In 1982, Cody Webster and his Kirkland teammates won the Little League World Series as a ‘bunch of kids having a ball,’ but he has deep concerns about the media attention and big money drawn to youth sports nowadays.

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Cody Webster still loves Little League Baseball and cherishes his biggest playing memories from more than three decades ago.

Indeed, those on-field moments in 1982, when Webster and his Kirkland pals famously dethroned Taiwan at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., weren’t what nearly ruined his life. That came later, when adults who had watched the 12-year-old dominate the Taiwanese on ABC’s Wide World of Sports began resenting his celebrity: swearing and spitting at him and dubbing him a failure for not becoming another Babe Ruth.

So, Bothell resident Webster, now 44, remains sensitive about youth sports and the impact of adults on impressionable youngsters. Case in point: the Little League Softball World Series in Portland last week, where a South Snohomish girls team was accused of “throwing” a game against North Carolina to prevent a tough Iowa opponent from advancing over it based on runs-allowed ratio.

Webster, himself a youth coach, won’t point fingers at South Snohomish coach Fred Miller, said to have benched top players and ordered others to bunt with two strikes and swing at pitches in the dirt while being no-hit in an 8-0 loss. Miller defended his tactics and instead blamed Little League’s tiebreaker system.

But Webster agrees that the growing monetization of youth sports and media attention surrounding them have heightened stakes and fueled questionable adult behavior.

“It’s crazy, man,’’ he says of increased Little League TV exposure. “Now they’re showing semifinals and regionals. I feel bad for those kids. … It just adds a lot of pressure. You put them on TV, you put that carrot out there that they’re going to be on ESPN for two weeks straight, and I think it just makes parents and coaches and kids do crazy things.’’

And it isn’t just Little League, which has an eight-year, $60 million contract with ESPN that includes televising the softball tournament playoffs.

Youth sports of all stripes, with 35 million child participants nationwide, have become an estimated $7 billion annual industry. Cities and towns compete to build venues for youth tournaments, knowing visiting families will spend on hotels and restaurants.

Parents hire private trainers and even public-relations firms to improve their preteens’ chances at sponsorships and scholarships.

With big money and heightened media exposure surrounding youth sports, it’s easy to forget these are child athletes. Keep treating kids like professionals, and somebody is bound to take things too far.

In South Florida, parents and coaches recently were found to have set point spreads and bet six-figure sums on youth football, telling players as young as 5 how much was riding on them.

This year, the Jackie Robinson West team in Chicago was stripped of its 2014 Little League World Series title for importing “ringers” from outside its designated territory.

“I think part of it, with Little League, is you ask these coaches to volunteer their time for five or six months sometimes,’’ Webster says.

“They’re out there three or four nights a week in games and they just get really competitive and they lose track of what Little League really, originally, is supposed to be about.

“It’s gotten to be so important,’’ he adds. “When we played, we wanted to win the World Series, of course, but I don’t remember that kind of pressure. Our parents were having fun. Our coaches wanted to win, but at the end of the day, we were just a bunch of kids having a ball.’’

Webster’s fun stopped when adults who’d initially worshipped his instant celebrity became envious and rooted for him to fail. He grew burned out well before a shoulder injury ended his career at Eastern Washington University.

It took years for Webster to return to baseball as a coach. He works with his former Kirkland Nationals team of Little Leaguers and manages the Northshore Sports Complex in Woodinville.

Webster concedes that his paid instructional work at the sports complex makes him part of the youth sports moneymaking apparatus. He says parents always will be willing to pay to help their children, but “perspective” is key.

He wants players to succeed but never forgets their age. “I don’t want them to go through what I did.’’

After last week’s softball scandal broke, Little League officials ruled South Snohomish did not “play with the effort and spirit appropriate of Little League play” and ordered a one-game playoff with Iowa. South Snohomish lost 3-2 and was eliminated.

South Snohomish president Jeff Taylor issued a statement saying: “Our coach was faced with a decision that, in the bubble of intense competition, appeared to him to be in the best interest of our team. In hindsight, it is very likely he would have made a different choice. … I can see abundant evidence that it was not in line with the spirit of the game.’’

Webster wasn’t surprised by reports of South Snohomish players being insulted and threatened by angry parents.

“People lose their minds when it comes to youth sports,’’ Webster says. “I’ve said this for years, and I don’t know whether it’s Little League’s fault, but they bring out the worst in people. I don’t know where that negative passion comes from.’’

Somebody had best figure it out. The stakes and money in youth sports aren’t about to get smaller.

Meaning, the adults fueling this billion-dollar industry need to start acting bigger.