By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Everlasting Joy - Love of baseball waning
Placeholder Image

The Standard is putting the finishing touches on a series that discusses the decline in youth baseball and softball participation. As a guy fortunate enough to coach baseball teams at the Civic Center for 10 years, I have my own feelings on the situation.

I’ve heard just about everything blamed for the dwindling numbers and fewer teams. The thing I’d like to stress is I don’t think there’s any person, or any organization, to blame. Fewer kids playing ball is a reflection of where we are as a society.

Here are my personal reasons why youth sports, including baseball, are taking a hit.

Kids don’t want to play
Adults like to reminisce about the days when they were kids and playing baseball and softball were the things to do. More nights than not were spent at the ballpark and when kids weren’t involved in an actual game, they were playing cupball outside the fence.

Those days are gone.

Today’s kids don’t have the same interest in playing ball. Video games, Snapchat and other things are certainly responsible, but what can we do? We’re never going back to the days without cellphones.

Travel ball has hurt local leagues
As a generalization, most travel teams are composed of 11 players, maybe 12. If those players don’t participate in the local leagues and play exclusively travel ball, it makes a dent.

A league that might have had eight teams is reduced to six teams if there are two teams playing exclusively travel ball. What’s more, travel players are some of your better athletes so losing them impacts the overall quality of play.

Teams go from having maybe six really good players to having four. Routine grounders become errors, the games become sloppier, and no one is as enthused about participating.

Parents not as supportive
As a parent who has encouraged my two boys to play football, baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, and run track, it’s still a constant battle to get them to participate. Sometimes, despite my urging, they have no interest.

Now think about kids who never receive encouragement from home. Some parents don’t care if they play or not. They’d would rather save the $50 entry fee and spend it on something else.

Having kids plays sports, and hanging out at the ballpark all summer, are no longer priorities. Between practices and games, it’s an extra burden some parents don’t like.

I can think of several more factors I’d include in this list, but I firmly believe the most overwhelming reason comes down to that age-old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

We can try our best, but we can’t make kids want to play ball. If kids were tugging at shirts and begging mom and dad to let them play, most parents would find a way to make it happen.