Youth Sports

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abpk2903
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Youth Sports

Postby abpk2903 » July 3rd, 2019, 9:31 am

We are in the “off-season” for bleachercoaches so to save us from ourselves and arguing about part-time athletic director hires, facility deficiencies, and teenagers transferring to new schools, I figured I would start a thread to get some thoughts and opinions on traveling sports, AAU circuits, pay-for-evaluation camps, 7-on-7 camps, and young athlete training programs.

 

I coach a rec-level 13-15 year old baseball team in a town in northeast Maryland. We do participate in a few local tournaments a year which are within 25 miles of our home fields.  But a huge part of the local baseball council’s program is travel baseball.  This drives me absolutely crazy.  It starts with 8U and goes through 18U with the local council compiling multiple teams at each age group all while having to combine with other local programs to have enough “rec” (non-travel) teams to form a league for the kids to play in locally.

 

The entire program is catered to the travel programs.  Everything from making the decision to leave the sanctioned Little League program, to rules for tee-ball (like no longer allow you to use pitching machines so we can have our 8U program ready to see live arms), to equipment rules, to scheduling rules for players that are trying to make local JV teams.  It is absolutely out of control crazy. 

 

I had a parent of kid on my team this year telling me they were paying upwards of $500 a month for personalized training for their 14 year old by a group of retired “professional” players. This is a family that $500 a month has to sting the budget.

 

I have had other players pay hundreds for evaluations by scouting services and while falling behind on their school work (due to baseball schedules) to the point of almost expulsion.  I know of kids being put on athletic based diets and workout plans at 10 years old. I even know of a few parents that are electively giving their kids UCL replacement (Tommy John) surgery in their early teens with the hope of eventually getting another 2 mph out of their fastball.

 

Now let’s discuss kids as young as 6 and 7 traveling every weekend out of state to play baseball games. Yes, 6 and 7 year olds are now playing not only travel baseball but they have them on a friggin’ circuit. This blows my mind.  What are these parents sinking financially into these adventures?  How are they keeping up with their school work when the season stretches from mid-April to mid-October?  Again these kids are 7 years old. 

 

Even though I question it, I can understand the idea of 14, 15, 16 year olds traveling a few hours away to get  to play against some higher quality competition or maybe be more accessible to some scouting services.  But this should only be for the highest end athletes that are head and shoulders above their peer group in skill set.  It also doesn’t require dozens of continuous weekends of travel out of the state or hours away from their home.  The average entry fee alone for a tournament is $700 per team which is about $80 per kid, per weekend, before traveling expenses.  A few semi-local (a few hours from home) tournaments a year along with maybe one out of state trip would be a perfect summer for a high-end athlete showcasing their skills for evaluators.

 

Why are we as a society allowing children’s lives to revolve around athletics?  Why do so many parents and coaches think that their players are going to reach a level of sports that justifies tens of thousands of dollars through their youth to get them there?

 

A know a big problem almost every sport has had over the last several years is participation numbers.  As always, the adults want to blame the kids (video games, laziness, too short of attention spans).  Well it’s time to stop blaming them and start blaming the adults.  We allow this to continuously go on.   Maybe the reason previous generations played sports at much greater numbers was their parents weren’t forcing them to devote their entire lives to the game in order to “play competitively.”  They could simply go out for the little league team, play 2 games a week for 8 weeks, and then not have to play again until the next spring. Today, we have 7 year olds at the indoor facility in early February to get them ready to play competitive travel tournaments by mid-April. 

 

Lastly, athletics were always a societal equalizer.  It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, from uptown or downtown, religious or atheist. At the end of the day, if you were athletically gifted you could go compete in sports and maybe someday find your way into a college education or professional ball with that athleticism.  Well, we have ruined that.  Our youth are now being told if you want that D1 scholarship or if you want to make it pro, you have to spend tens of thousands in traveling and training to get there.  The AAU circuit has killed high school basketball.  Multi-sport athletes now have to put all of their “eggs in-one basket.”  Kids feel the need to transfer into other schools for an edge.  I even heard recently a young parent tell me they got their child baptized into the Catholic Church in case they need to get them into a Catholic high school for athletics.  He said it would be cheaper if they are baptized and confirmed Catholic. Maybe video games are a better choice.



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knowitall
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Re: Youth Sports

Postby knowitall » July 3rd, 2019, 9:56 am

On June 10 the local little league was already in the playoffs. June 10. I guess if your team didn't qualify your season was already over. On June 10. The last day of school was June 7. If you are not good enough to be an All Star your season is over. On June 10th. What happened to summer? Little league was once a summer activity. While your season did start in May, it ran until mid to late July. The end of July and August was for playoffs and all star tournaments.

As for travel baseball, basketball, soccer, etc., what is your ultimate goal as a parent? having watched our best and brightest over the past two decades or so now the best we are doing is Division 2 or perhaps high cost Division 1. Few of our athletes are getting scholarships, most are paying big bucks to go to the Marists, St. Francises, Mt. Alyosiuses, Seton Hills and Washington & Jeffersons. Why? Do kids really enjoy traveling to Hagerstown, MD, etc. to play six softball games in 90 degree heat in the rain every weekend?

It's time to take back our little leagues!

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Re: Youth Sports

Postby everett » July 3rd, 2019, 12:38 pm

You think baseball is bad, take a look at wrestling.  There is a guy in Ebensburg who built a half-millon dollar house on youth club wrestling profits.  Kids getting 200 matches a year as 9 and 10 year olds.  Dads who make their kids workout 2x a day 7 days a week, but look like a fishing bobber themselves.  Youth sports as a whole is all about money anymore. Look at private schools, basically enticing parents to build Super Teams, and pay a school fee to do it, and pack up their family and move. 
If you look at the parents behind this behavior, a lot of them weren't that successful in their competing years, and will do anything to get little johnny a scholarship so they can plaster it all over facebook. 

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Re: Youth Sports

Postby RZBZNZ » July 3rd, 2019, 2:57 pm

Yep, it's all about the $.

Unfortunately travel sports have become the norm not the exception and the reason is because its a money maker for so many people.

If you have half a brain you can go online and learn techniques or go to a few clinics and do just as good for your kid as any of these paid coaches and instructors. Its not like coaching a sport requires an advanced degree, or even a course at the community college. From what I've seen, the majority of the kids aren't any better nowadays than they used to be. In my opinion its because, as was already stated, they aren't doing it of their own volition. All of their practice time is at the hands of a coach. Kids don't just play games on their own anymore.

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Re: Youth Sports

Postby Manfred » July 4th, 2019, 8:42 am

Maybe 12-15 years ago, a nephew who was rated the 5th best pitcher/ player in the state of Delaware, and out-dueled Rick Porcello in a playoff game, was getting his private batting  instructionals from John Wockenfuss, and pitching guidance from Tom House.  A very promising future collegiate career was cut short at age 16 when he discovered he liked cars and girls more.  Now he's an electrician in Myrtle Beach, making $30 or more an hr.
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Re: Youth Sports

Postby Colonel Mustard » July 4th, 2019, 10:31 am

I have coached various youth sports over the years, both boys and girls, not particularly well, but I have coached a lot. And I have no problem with how people spend their money. I hate that rec leagues are being affected by the push toward travel, but it is what it is. I've tried to focus on the rec kids I'm coaching and not worry about the kids we don"t have.

My one issue is the 'travel attitude'. This belief that because a kid does travel he/she is far superior to the kid that doesn't, to the point where the travel people believe it is beneath them to have to mix with the average rec player. Sure, not every travel kid/ parent has the 'attitude', but it sure seems to be more and more prevalent. I see the eye rolls and whispering between the travel folks when a rec kid drops a ball, or shows up to play without the latest $500 bat. Poor sportsmanship and disrespect toward opponents, teammates, umpires, and non-'professional' coaches is rampant.

When a kid is showered with the latest and most expensive gear, shuttled state-to-state, nice hotel-to nice hotel, and told they are 'elite' or a super-star, their whole life, I guess we shouldn't be surprised when they end up being entitled, obnoxious little jerks. I heard a story from a parent last week who bought a bat off of a travel parent. The travel parent bought the latest $400 bat for their little travel star, who used it twice and decided it wasn't good enough. So the travel parent went-out and bought another $400 bat, and sold the first to my acquaintance at a deep discount. Now how do we expect that little monster 'star's to turn -out??

My soapbox plea- teach your kids how to be good teammates, to respect authority, to have compassion for others, to be humble.....that will carry them a lot farther than any private pitching lessen ever will.

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Re: Youth Sports

Postby El-Moldo » July 4th, 2019, 2:11 pm

And stress "Humble in Victory, Gracious in Defeat".

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Re: Youth Sports

Postby abpk2903 » July 4th, 2019, 7:15 pm

A lot of good points here and I would agree with all of them. For the kid the decided to be an electrician, good for him.  He made the decisions that responsible adults can’t even seem to make too often. The thing is 99.99% of these kids are ending up in a non-athletic career whether they want to or not.

I had 2 “travel stars” mixed in on my Rec team this year mainly due to the fact they played JV and most travel teams in our area won’t put up with rostering kids that can’t devote all of March and April for pre-season or early season tournaments. The one kid was a great teammate and constantly was trying to help and cheer on the younger kids (he was 15 and very advanced baseball IQ). The other kid would only warm up with the kid that he knew played travel, quit pitching the one game because “these rec kids commit errors and I can’t pitch because of all of these bad players,” and literally reminded us several times a game he was a travel player.

I can’t argue with getting the best out of your kid and doing all you can to help them succeed. Yet I feel like REC is where more people need to devote their attention. I was asked to be travel coordinator after this last season and I politely declined. My goal to get the league I am involved with as a place where all kids (talented, untalented, rich, poor, etc.) to be able to play and have a great time at the REC level. 

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Re: Youth Sports

Postby Jimjohn81 » July 5th, 2019, 3:11 pm

I am all for the do it all as a primary student. My kids did dance, gymnastics, music lessons, soccer, football, baseball/softball, basketball, boxing. I myself played college athletics at a high level but never have pushed my kids in a particular direction. I do feel that when my kids get to the 14-15 year range than they have to make decisions. We used to have 10 little league teams in our district, now we have 2 and the quality ISNT better. So I have to take my kid elsewhere for a little more competition. But I feel that he still needs to play with his school and never does he drop that better than garbage on anyone. I wouldnt allow it. As they get a little older they will have to decide If they just want to be part of the team and can accept that, fine. If they want to set higher goals fine. I think as a parent you have to evaluate where your kids skill level is at as far as college opportunities and your financial situation. If I'm a billionaire then I may spend thousands for my kid to simply just better themselves with no goal of furthering the athletics after high school
But I am not and I will only put what I can into and try to see the big picture.

As far as the league's go it's the same around here. I'm flood city elite! I'm in the LHAC! And that's all great. And I love great coaching and instruction but at what cost. To Each His Own I guess. At the end of the day It still all comes down to size and speed and athleticism. Arm strength and power. A little exposure is good but parents have to do their research and know which is which. If my son ends up a 5-6 righty throwing a fast ball at 78 then personally, I wont pay 5k a year to work on his mechanics. But I would never knock someone for doing it, I just won't contribute to your go fund me page.

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Re: Youth Sports

Postby billmurray » July 6th, 2019, 10:03 am

Study after study and here’s what we know: the kids who were great little league players usually get the college spots. The great midget football players go on to be great HS players...etc... in between those ages, nothing changes. You are born an athletic person.  Yes, you get training to be better in those middle years but much like putting faster tires on a corvette and a pinto, the corvette will always be faster. This is how it always was until social media came out.  
Now everybody who played college sports is a self declared trainer/coach/expert. And boy will they hold their wallet open wide for mommy and daddy’s $$.  Problem is, every dad out there “knows” their kid is a great ____. So they'll pay the dream. (even though a nice IRA or CD will have a better return) Yet those same dads don’t coach. Hmmm
Then you have the guy who says my kid is a wr and we run the ball.  Well, Julian Fleming.  You ain’t killing DBs on a run team you ain’t a WR
Anyhoo, travel/aau sports are a scam.  The only thing they are good for is the coaches make money.  If every kid quit travel/aau they’d still end up where they should in college, the coaches would end up coaching at high schools but make less money.  It’s all about the dollar. Nike pays bob to coach and push the products. The talent level is no different because there's a billion travel/aau teams.  SOME are super AAU teams, I'm not dense, but the competition is just as watered down as other sports. The only reason those kids are there is because mommy and daddy know how to budget or dont have to.  
Now let’s talk football.  If it isn’t on a college campus, waste of $$. Someone again is getting rich. Bet you didn’t know that events like the opening and such Pay hs coaches to take their kids.  Coach get paid and a free trip, kids mommy opens the wallet for false promise.  Who’s not at those events? College coaches.
Club 7v7.  Another horrible lie.  You don’t get better in club 7v7. The coaches get rich.  Only 7v7 you should be in is with your hs team as an activity/team builder.  Nothing else.  
Recruiting services....College coaches don't use the ones kids pay for.  That I know after talking with several hundred college coaches while building ours, keystonefootballrecruits.com.  They only use the ones THEY pay for.  So spread the word, stop wasting money.  

Extra point:  We have all heard colleges want multi sport athletes. They also want RESTED athletes.  They don't want specialized athletes who play a sport 6-8 months a year like baseball kids who play spring, summer and fall ball.  Hell, they don't want kids in summer leagues at all.  Why?  Cause if for example your kid plays football, basketball and baseball they are basically playing sports for 9 straight months.   Summer is a time to rest. college and pro seasons last 5 months.   After that their athletes take a rest and train.   The same should go for HS athletes. 

Bottom line.  Parents need to stop paying scouting services, specialized trainers, travel ball expenses and put that money in a nice college account to draw interest cause at the end of the day they’ll be paying for college.


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