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PostPosted: June 13 16, 1:43 pm 
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I'm very disappointed in the lack of participation in "little league" in our town. I do think costs contribute to the lack of participation. For example, we recently moved but still participate in the city's program where we lived before. The fee to join is $75 (or $35 if you participate in the fundraiser and sell $40 of raffle tickets). The town I'm in charges just $25 and even waives that in extreme economic cases (like with the biggest employer in the area shutting down two months ago).

My kid is 9, and they have 9 and 10 in the same league. Typically they keep them separate, but not enough 10-year olds signed up. There are 6 teams. Having now played each team at least once, there are 3 black kids among the 65 or so playing. In the town we're in, the same age group has 4 teams, and I'd say there's roughly 25 black kids, if not more. That's about a 50% difference, and the demographics aren't very different.

The town we play in really has taken the travel ball to the extremes, too. Most kids don't do both. There's not a travel team for my son's age group, but there is in the town we live in but don't play in. I'm starting to see how this really hurts sports programs moving forward, particularly at the jv and varsity levels. Some of these kids get burned out and quit. Some just aren't that good after all that time. But when they quit playing rec ball because they're focusing on travel ball, it hurts the rec ball leagues. Some of the marginal kids end up quitting because it's just not fun anymore with the numbers. Ones that could have improved and contributed to ball in high school have given up the sport.

As a coach, I put winning lower on my list of priorities. I want kids to learn, improve and have fun and want to come back better the next season. Is my kid going to be as good as some of these travel ball kids? Probably not, at least once they hit a certain age. But I don't truly see the ROI in travel ball. These kids aren't getting drafted (save for a very select few), and scholarships for baseball simply aren't in abundance.

I'm kinda glad my daughter is on the Duke TIP front like Freed's (although we don't participate in any of Duke's programs). She's in the top of her class, and that's where she competes.

My son does sports because he loves to play. I don't push to practice that much more than the regular kid, although I've spent a little money this year on private instruction. Throw in what I've paid for catcher's gear, gloves, cleats, instruction, league fees, batting helmet, bat...it adds up. And while most won't spend what I have (particularly on catcher's gear), it's easily the most expensive compared to basketball (shoes) and football (cleats).


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 10:10 am 
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This thread has made me start thinking and I just realized that of my friends with kids, not ONE of their kids plays in an actual local youth league. Every one who has kids that play sports is now on some sort of select or travel team. One friend's daughter started on a local youth team and then after a year or two her team decided to go select so they could lose some dead weight and start traveling. That has always annoyed me. It was the classic case of the dad's who coached letting the fact that they were winning go to their head and deciding that they wanted to win bigger trophies. They don't travel out of town too much but they are playing in tournaments nearly every weekend somewhere and the parents are spending tons of money on it.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 11:19 am 
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cardinalkarp wrote:
Fan_In_NY wrote:
Question is what organized leagues are really growing? I am sure Lax, Hockey, soccer are making big jumps over the last 5,10,20 years but their numbers were minuscule compared to baseball. I don't think the net number that baseball is losing is moving directly over to other sports, instead kids are just less into organized sports.


I think at the younger ages (10-14yrs) I would think that it can get pricey getting on good teams who end up traveling to different tournaments, although Hockey is about as expensive a sport you can get into IMO. Are baseball's #'s dropping significantly while the other sports are at a steady incline? Maybe in all organized sports, once they start to get to a competitive level and begin to involve travel are starting to out price the average family?

I don't have any children so this was a theory as much as a question to those who do have kids whom are starting to get involved in competitive leagues.


My great nephew is playing on a AAA team in Chesterfield. He lives in Springfield, IL. 2+ hour commute to practice. They keep talking about a college scholy, and maybe the NHL. Maybe he is that good, but if a scholy is a realistic goal they could have easily put the money away they spent on hockey and paid for his college multiple times over.

My favorite year of coaching was an in house 9-10 year old team, we had so much. The next year travel started, and I managed those teams for a few years. Comparing it to today, it was cheap. We played 40-50 games, which I thought was alot, but now it's nothing. And the price - whooo. Tourney's every weekend, travel, ... Crazy It certainly can price out an average family.

When I played youth there were no travel teams, and the neighboorhood teams were pretty good. Most kids could play some, now you look at the in house teams and good lord you can't hardly recognize what sport they are trying to play. It's so bad, it's not good for anyone. So parents are in this pickle - if your kid is good and you want them to develop and maybe play at the HS level you have to get them involved in these leagues early. They simply won't develop playing in the house leagues with that slop.

I don't doubt for a minute there are plenty of good ballplayers with the talent to continue that simply can't because of money. If things cost what they cost today when I played I wouldn't have been able to do it. My parents didn't have that kind of money, nor did they care to run all over creation all summer long either. When I finally got to the age where the rubber hit the road and things got competitive, we didn't pay a dime. At 16 I was invited to a tryout, I made the team, and we didn't have a pay a cent. Never paid a dime after that to play baseball - there might have been some HS fees or something but it was pretty negligible I'm sure. When we went to a tourney it was because we won something to get there, now you just mostly fill a form out and send in a check somewhere. I'll bet my brother/nephew shell out $10k easy for hockey, and that's not counting gas/eating out etc.. for 200+ mile roundtrip to practice 2-3x per week.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 11:25 am 
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Secret Weapon wrote:
ghostrunner wrote:
Freed Roger wrote:
you can always tell when a select team is in the same hotel by the highway. continental breakfast is bedlam


I work for an organization involving tourism, and we interact with hotels regularly. Heard last year that they specifically don't want the baseball families if they have a better choice. Too many wild kids and drunk dads.


I can confirm this. The parents are worse than the kids are. They congregate and get drunk and loud in the public areas while they let the kids run around the hotel and cause havoc. The worst.


The first year I had a travel team we were 11, and we would share practice facilities etc.. with the 12 year olds. As the season progressed I started wondering what was wrong with our parents, they didn't bond like the 12 year olds did. I heard stories about cookouts and drinking and all the fun they had, our 11 year old parents were all nice folks but didn't have the dynamic. Went on a few tourney's with them through the years and I couldn't get over how wild that group was.

By the time those kids got in HS I [expletive] you not over 1/2 were divorced, not one from our group. One got divorced because there was a guy cheating with a Mom at a tournament and got caught.

I was thankful for the group we had, friendly, nice folks, would occasionally go out for a burger and a beer after a game, but never out of control or wild. It was a good group.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 11:43 am 
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Yeah, when I travel, I think I'd rank a boys select sports team as the worst thing to run into.

Factors are- boys are pigs
-Mountain Dew
-and it's mostly Dads traveling with baseball, as opposed to the soccer mom's that can keep some semblance of order and pay at least some sort attention to what the kids are doing. (unless they bust out the wine, and then all bets are off).
-baseball games are physical, but they wear the boys down the least. and the game tends to have more fat kids that eat all the food at the continental breakfast. and if you try to hit the hot tub at the Comfort Inn while there - Ffff [expletive] me! Can't get near that [expletive] waffle maker either.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 11:55 am 
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Jim, I'm glad you brought up the cost factor because I had forgotten about that. I actually had that discussion with a friend years ago when they got their son onto a select soccer team. At the time he was the teams 'best' player. They were also 8 years old and the only reason he was the 'best' was because he was faster than the other kids and not terrified of the ball. There was no actual skill involved. Well, his dad played soccer in his younger days and wanted to relive his glory through his boy so they got him into select soccer. It wasn't too bad at first but then they really started to travel once they got hooked up with what is now STL Sporting which has an affiliation with the MLS team in KC which is just a scam if you ask me.

The kids love it because they get to say that they train with professional players. In reality on a regular basis when the team is at home they offer a few spots to each of their affiliated teams to practices where the kids pay to travel to KC and then PAY to practice at their facility and run through the same drills that they could have done at home. But a professional player will stop by and run them through a part of the practice. And then of course the team normally has a game which the family then buys tickets to because at that point how can you tell your kid no? And they basically tell the kid that they were specially chosen for the chance so the kid gets this inflated vision of his skill and the opportunity so that any parent telling their kid that they aren't going to take them to KC and pay for them to 'train' with a professional is going to just crush the kid. The kids never catch on that EVERY kid on the team gets invited at some point.

It really is brilliant marketing on the part of the MLS teams that do it however. They end up creating fans for life from the kids that are in their affiliated programs while making money off of nearly every part. The teams PAY to be affiliated. Then the kids PAY to actually 'train' with a member of the team. Then they make money on top of all that when the families are there and buy tickets and merchandise to attend the games that happen to take place while they are in town training. There is no system to bring the kids that are actually good into the organization since they don't have lower level teams to feed the MLS team. It really is all just a huge marketing scheme on the part of MLS... but once again, it is brilliant.

The only thing I don't like about it is that they are basically selling to the kids and the parents either don't see it or just won't tell their kids no.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 11:58 am 
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Oh yeah. Their kid put on some weight and let's just say he's no longer one of the best players on the team. He's not even on the top team for his age group with his organization. He'll be an 8th grader next year. All that talk they had of him paying for college with a soccer scholarship from the ages of 8-10 are done. But at this point they've already put out enough money on soccer to pay for a year or two of college for him and that's all gone. Sure he had fun but he had fun in the CYC league he played in before he started playing with STL Sporting.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 12:01 pm 
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BW23 wrote:
I don't push to practice that much more than the regular kid, although I've spent a little money this year on private instruction. Throw in what I've paid for catcher's gear, gloves, cleats, instruction, league fees, batting helmet, bat...it adds up. And while most won't spend what I have (particularly on catcher's gear), it's easily the most expensive compared to basketball (shoes) and football (cleats).



Do teams not supply any equipment any more? When I was a kid in the 1970's the only equipment a player needed was their glove and cleats. Very few owned their own bats. The team bats (wood only), batting helmets and the catcher's equipment were all carried by the manager in an army type green canvas bag. The American Legion in a town 30 miles away had the only travel team in the area. I wonder how many kids would have participated back then if they had that added expense.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 12:12 pm 
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Spider John wrote:
BW23 wrote:
I don't push to practice that much more than the regular kid, although I've spent a little money this year on private instruction. Throw in what I've paid for catcher's gear, gloves, cleats, instruction, league fees, batting helmet, bat...it adds up. And while most won't spend what I have (particularly on catcher's gear), it's easily the most expensive compared to basketball (shoes) and football (cleats).



Do teams not supply any equipment any more? When I was a kid in the 1970's the only equipment a player needed was their glove and cleats. Very few owned their own bats. The team bats (wood only), batting helmets and the catcher's equipment were all carried by the manager in an army type green canvas bag. The American Legion in a town 30 miles away had the only travel team in the area. I wonder how many kids would have participated back then if they had that added expense.


My town's league only supplies uniforms, baseballs, and catcher's equipment.

Each player is required to purchase his or her own bat, glove, cleats, and heart guard. Batting gloves and anything else (eye black, donuts, etc) is optional.


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PostPosted: June 14 16, 12:50 pm 
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dmarx114 wrote:
Spider John wrote:
BW23 wrote:
I don't push to practice that much more than the regular kid, although I've spent a little money this year on private instruction. Throw in what I've paid for catcher's gear, gloves, cleats, instruction, league fees, batting helmet, bat...it adds up. And while most won't spend what I have (particularly on catcher's gear), it's easily the most expensive compared to basketball (shoes) and football (cleats).



Do teams not supply any equipment any more? When I was a kid in the 1970's the only equipment a player needed was their glove and cleats. Very few owned their own bats. The team bats (wood only), batting helmets and the catcher's equipment were all carried by the manager in an army type green canvas bag. The American Legion in a town 30 miles away had the only travel team in the area. I wonder how many kids would have participated back then if they had that added expense.


My town's league only supplies uniforms, baseballs, and catcher's equipment.

Each player is required to purchase his or her own bat, glove, cleats, and heart guard. Batting gloves and anything else (eye black, donuts, etc) is optional.


I think that's pretty standard, although I think most teams have a couple bats that anyone can use that have been beaten to [expletive].

If you actually want to play baseball, even at a rec level, a kid should have their own glove, cleats, and I guess a heart guard which I've never even heard of, possibly a bat that is the right length and weight for them, and a pair of batting gloves. The good thing is most of that stuff at least last the course of a season on the cheaper items and a bat/glove can last years if you want them to.


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