I don’t know how these things work in ya’ll’s neck of the woods but in my community the Little League teams are being severely dimminished by the proliferation of “select” pay to play teams that are springing up in ever greater numbers. Just a few years ago if your boys or girls wanted to play baseball you signed them up for local Little League and it was off to the races. Parents volunteered for coaching and umpiring duties, teams were drafted, a regular season was followed by a season ending tournament, then all-star selection and regional playoffs for these teams. Lessons were learned in sportsmanship. In how to behave when things were and were not going your way. They even learned a little about playing baseball as an added bonus. April through July. Seems like plenty of opportunity for one and all no? Apparently not.
At some point a parent or coach felt slighted or a victim of small town politics and decided that they would start a team of their own. Pretty soon a sufficient number of petulent adults who had never learned the lessons referred to above did the same and they had enough teams to form a league. Great right? Competition and all that. As American as, well…baseball. Since the teams were spread out over a much greater geographical area than the local Little League, much more time would have to be devoted to attending tournaments against the other teams. To compensate for this the coaches and umpires who had been providing their services gratis in Little League determined that they should be paid for said duties. Thus was born the pay for play “select” league for twelve and thirteen year olds. Your probably asking yourself, what kind of idiot could be talked into paying 1,000 bucks for something they can get for free by going down to the local ballpark and signing up for Little League? The kind of idiot of course who is susceptible to the appeal to vanity and the certain knowledge that their precious spawn is sure to be the next A-Rod if only he gets the proper instruction that only “paid” coaching can provide. It doesn’t seem to dawn on these geniuses that said “paid” coaches were providing their expertise for free just a year earlier and for whatever reasons couldn’t hack even that.
At first it didn’t have too much of an effect on the local leagues except for draining off most of the really gifted players who’s parents were especially susceptible to the “this might be just the edge he needs to get that scholarship” angle. After awhile however, every parent who had a beef with the league or thought that their delicate flower wasn’t getting enough respect (translated as playing time) transferred to the new league until this year there were only FOUR teams in our local Babe Ruth league for thirteen year olds. It seems that whenever adults get overly envolved in what is a childs endeavor, it invariably goes FUBAR in very short order.
I’m thinking of starting my own sand lot league next year using old second hand equipment with nobody over the age of thirteen allowed within 100 yards of the field. If it goes well I think I can charge admission and maybe rent binoculars to view the distant games. Yeah…that’s the ticket! With the low overhead, I think I could make some real money…