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Thread: Is little league as popular as it used to be??

  1. #26
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    My feeling is that youth baseball leagues are declining because of the watering down of the rules and every kid getting a trophy for winning nothing.

  2. #27
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    Introduce baseball in elementary school. Whenever I pass by an elementary in S. Florida I see kids playing every sport but baseball. I thought baseball was the national pasttime. Apparently not. MLB introduces baseball at the elementary level in other countries. I've never met a kid who doesn't like to hit. Use a sponge-like ball like my kid did at the YMCA.

  3. #28
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    I know this is an older thread but I feel like answering this question. No, Little League is not as popular as it used to be. I know this because I played Little League until 2007, when I went to Babe Ruth and then High School. Almost all of us were able to play every inning, save one or two kids (ironically, never the coach's son(s)). If I were to go driving and count the number of Little League fields around, and then count the number of soccer/ football fields around, the number isn't even close. Mike Epstein puts it pretty well in my opinion "I've never known a kid who hits .180 to have fun". Little League keeps losing kids to soccer and other spring sports because of two reasons. 1. Baseball can /is prohibitively expensive. A new bat is 150 dollars. 2. Most players can't/ are never taught to hit properly, and as a result, lose interest.

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by pstein View Post
    I know this is an older thread but I feel like answering this question. No, Little League is not as popular as it used to be. I know this because I played Little League until 2007, when I went to Babe Ruth and then High School. Almost all of us were able to play every inning, save one or two kids (ironically, never the coach's son(s)). If I were to go driving and count the number of Little League fields around, and then count the number of soccer/ football fields around, the number isn't even close. Mike Epstein puts it pretty well in my opinion "I've never known a kid who hits .180 to have fun". Little League keeps losing kids to soccer and other spring sports because of two reasons. 1. Baseball can /is prohibitively expensive. A new bat is 150 dollars. 2. Most players can't/ are never taught to hit properly, and as a result, lose interest.
    Very true. Soccer is a lot of fun if you suck. You can be talentless and still have a nice day. Baseball is different. If you can hit it's the greatest thing. but if you can't it really sucks.


    I'm from europe, how big is soccer there? I have heard it's a very minor sport and nobody exept some girls and latinos play it in the US

  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by dominik View Post
    I'm from europe, how big is soccer there? I have heard it's a very minor sport and nobody except some girls and latinos play it in the US
    Soccer is NOT a minor high school sport in the U.S.

    HS sports participation nos. as of 2009--
    boys:
    football 1,100,100
    track and field 558,000
    basketball 545,000
    baseball 473,000
    soccer 383,000


    girls:
    track and field 455,000
    basketball 445,000
    volleyball 440,000
    softball 369,000
    soccer 344,000
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  6. #31
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    I'm convinced MLB has to do more at the elementary school level. It was different when I was coming up because we played baseball everywhere like empty lots and the street learning the nuances of the game.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by dominik View Post
    Very true. Soccer is a lot of fun if you suck. You can be talentless and still have a nice day. Baseball is different. If you can hit it's the greatest thing. but if you can't it really sucks.


    I'm from europe, how big is soccer there? I have heard it's a very minor sport and nobody exept some girls and latinos play it in the US
    Youth soccer is huge in the US. But it has not translated to an interest in professional soccer. When you hear people say the kids who play soccer are unathletic they are uninformed and ignorant. Rec soccer is no better or worse than rec baseball or any other rec sport. My son's high school team is one of the top teams in the state. Almost every player is on a select team in the summer. Most of them are going on to college soccer. There were 2,000 in attendance at their first district playoff game.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    I'm convinced MLB has to do more at the elementary school level. It was different when I was coming up because we played baseball everywhere like empty lots and the street learning the nuances of the game.
    The post season is on tv too late for young kids to watch. Elementary schools don't have baseball teams. Middle schools are dropping sports for bedget reasons. In this age parents aren't going to let their little kids bike off to a field one or two miles away for a day. Baseball competes with a lot of options for kid's attention. When we were kids it' was all there was. But, the kids with a passion for the game stick with it.

  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by dominik View Post
    Very true. Soccer is a lot of fun if you suck. You can be talentless and still have a nice day. Baseball is different. If you can hit it's the greatest thing. but if you can't it really sucks.
    Most people confuse activity with accomplishment though so no surprise there...

    Little League is still pretty popular in my area but make no mistake about it: interest starts to wane around the major league level (10-12). I put part of the blame on the specialization of kids or the year-round players. Hear me out...

    The year-round players' abilities vs the casual or seasonal players' is night and day. Few seasonal players are able to be as competitive against players who specialize in baseball. Some do but most just cannot. In my league, we have about 4 to 5 players per LL team that play on travel teams. Inevitably, these are the best players and play every inning. The remaining players are the ones to substitute in and out which means they get less at bats, less innings on defense and most likely, zero opportunity to pitch and/or catch. These kids look around and say, "Wait a minute. I've put in just as much time in practice. Why can't I play more?" when in actuality, they have not. This discourages them and inevitably they drop out of the game. I know kids that started with my son in t-ball and quit the game after three seasons for this very reason. Their parents also think the same way, "Hell, I paid for a full season and drove to a full season's worth of practices. Why can't Johnny play more?"

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the travel kids. They (and their parents) have made the commitment and have put in the time and money to get better. I just think it's one of the causes. And yes, coaches could do a better job of managing rotating players but that ain't gonna happen either...

  10. #35
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    I think interest wanes because baseball has become the 'uncool' sport' because in the past baseball has done a poor job of marketing and promotion of players. Most people don't know who Joe Mauer or Albert Pujols are, but everyone knows Lebron James.

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lendue View Post
    . . . These kids look around and say, "Wait a minute. I've put in just as much time in practice. Why can't I play more?" when in actuality, they have not. . . .
    You’re doing what most people do when this kind of thing is discussed. You’re mixing up the time they spend away from team practices with the team practices, and that’s not the right way to calculate practice time for a rec team. The purpose of rec ball is to give as many kids as many opportunities to develop as possible.

    There’s no tryouts, so everybody gets to be on a team, and there’s rules to make sure everyone gets at least minimal playing time, because if there wasn’t, there are coaches out there who wouldn’t play some of them at all. If you were talking about a team where there were tryouts and people were paying a lot more money than the LLI requirement, then you’d have a different story.

    If that were the case and a player or a parent complained, you’d be perfectly justified in telling them not to let the door hit them in the a$$ on the way out. But rec ball is something else. Since there’s no big deal about winning until it comes to All Stars, and those players will likely be those better players who practice more, I think its perfectly legitimate for the players who aren’t so good, and their parents to ask that question.
    The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

  12. #37
    IMO, interest wanes because hitting is difficult, and it's no fun to play if you can't hit.

    Arguably, soccer would be far less popular among kids if a soccer ball were the size of a baseball so that kids were kicking and missing much of the time.
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  13. #38
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    All I had to play as an 11-year old was little league. My son could choose from little league, travel baseball, rec soccer, travel soccer, lacrosse, pop warner football, travel hockey, wrestling, golf, rec basketball, and travel basketball. Nearly every youth sport pushes parents and kids into a year-round commitment.

    Lacrosse and baseball divide up our kids almost evenly. That may not be the case outside of the Northeast.
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  14. #39
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    As I mentioned baseball isn't the 'cool' sport anymore as it once was. MLB must continue to work harder to get more kids to believe baseball is the 'cool' sport by sponsoring initiatives in elementary school with a soft ball, soft bat and a tee just like MLB does in foreign countries.

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    As I mentioned baseball isn't the 'cool' sport anymore as it once was. MLB must continue to work harder to get more kids to believe baseball is the 'cool' sport by sponsoring initiatives in elementary school with a soft ball, soft bat and a tee just like MLB does in foreign countries.
    You think teaching kids to whack a ball as grade schoolers will make its popularity soar. Of course any marketing ploy will improve its popularity, but I don’t believe that’s the secret. Heck, millions of kids play organized baseball, but the nature of the beast is such that players are being culled out much earlier than before, and its getting worse every year.

    What’s in vogue, is to develop at Warp 10! Its no longer enough for kids to be measured against their peers. Kids are sent out for private lessons and put on teams that consist of the best kids available, then have to travel to find competition, earlier every year. Once that starts, it fashionable for 8YOs to play with 10’s, 10’s to play with 12’s, 12’s with HS players, and 14YO’s on 18U teams.

    That’s all well and good, but here’s the paradigm. Instead of sticking around until they’ve at least got curly hair in private places, they’re run out of the game because there’s no place for them to play. They can’t make a good team and there’s so few rec teams in the 12-14 range, that becomes less and less of an option. Add to that, that as much as people want to believe it’s a game for everyone, every year it becomes more and more of a “country club” sport, eliminating a greater percentage of the kids who’s parent’s have the least amount of disposable income.

    So in the end, it isn’t that the kids are abandoning the sport, the sport has abandoned them!
    The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

  16. #41
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    scorekeeper,

    I concur, but maybe if a program is introduced, then maybe a few kids might get hooked before going to other sports.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    I concur, but maybe if a program is introduced, then maybe a few kids might get hooked before going to other sports.
    Sure it would, but it would be artificial. And is that really what’s “best” for everyone, and the game? Wouldn’t it be “better” to have people CHOOSE baseball because its an attractive sport that’s fun and exciting to participate in, in any form?

    Right now that’s less true than at any time in history. Let’s face it, there’s a kind of “snobbery” that’s been introduced to youth baseball. Although there’s always been a bit of that around, in the last couple of decades I’ve seen it get really horrible. Not everywhere mind you, but certainly its much more true than ever before.

    Its getting to be where parents are actually ashamed their kid hasn’t played in Cooperstown, Cobb, the Jr Olympic tournament, and for the older kids, at least 3 different perfect game showcases in 3 different states. I can’t tell you how many times the very 1st thing a dad tells someone about his child’s baseball career is that he’s a 10 playing with 14’s, or 14 playing with 18’s & 19’s.

    And here’s something really strange. It seems like every kid’s team is the best in the state or nationally ranked, and every kid’s private coach was an ex-ml player. Heck, I remember when it was a big deal to get a pretty HS or College player to coach a kid, but that was before people found out there was so much $$$$$ to be made.

    So yeah, there are one heck of a lot of things MLB could do to promote the game, but who really believes they’d do much more than give a discount on a hat, and then you’d have to prove your uncle played pro ball! Think about it. Jeez!
    The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

  18. #43
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    It certainly doesn't help that MLB appears to not care about baseball in the cities anymore. Almost any child can name LeBron James if he/she is shown a picture of him. There was a time when the same could be said about Babe Ruth. What is truly sad is that baseball is the number 3 sport in the US, behind Basketball and Football. I think another reason is over-specialization. On a little league team "My son is best pitcher in the league, so he should pitch EVERY day if he wants to or not". The high cost of equipment: "If I buy little Johnny this $200 bat, then he'll be the best hitter on the team, or even in the league. He would have to make all-stars then". Another point, there aren't any pick-up games anymore. Every kid has to play on a structured team. Not every child can afford to be in Little League. When I played Little League, which really wasn't that long ago, every kid in my area had the cheapest aluminum bat around, with the exception of the coach's son (from time to time). My Little League didn't (and to my knowledge) still doesn't allow wood bats. I can remember having 3 little league bats. The first was a Worth T-ball bat. The second was an Easton Black Magic (which aren't made anymore) that cost somewhere around 35 dollars. The third was an old Omaha that was bought on E-Bay. None of these bats cost more than 40 dollars, and I still was a better hitter than the kid with the DeMarini CF3. However, I think something that has been overlooked is that kids become embittered because of nepotism, along with the fact that hitting a round ball with a round stick is very difficult. When my friends tell me that baseball is easy, I tell them "Try to hit a round ball, traveling at 75 mph with a wooden log, and then tell me that baseball is easy". In order to make Little League more popular, 3 things need to be done. 1. Blind drafts 2. Have Little League prepare a handbook on how to teach hitting. 3. Little League should create a rule that says a player cannot play on more than one team per season. This would eliminate the coercing of 12-year olds into travel baseball. For example, if a player plays travel in the fall, no Little League. If a player plays Little League during the spring, no travel.

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by pstein View Post
    . . .In order to make Little League more popular, 3 things need to be done. 1. Blind drafts 2. Have Little League prepare a handbook on how to teach hitting. 3. Little League should create a rule that says a player cannot play on more than one team per season. . . .
    Drafts are completely up to the local league as far as I know, so anyone who wants to do it now, may.

    Why a handbook and not coach certification?

    Didn’t LL Inc. just recently got rid of that very rule?
    The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

  20. #45
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    A survey done by the National Amatuer Athletic Federation determined that boys participation in baseball has declined by 50%. Playground baseball is disappearing, sales of baseball equipment have declined, and boys aren't playing catch as much as they used to. Two reasons given for this trend are the lack of playing fields and the rise of other team sports.

    The survey was done in 1924, according to Harold Seymour in Baseball, The People's Game."

    This led to the development of American Legion Junior Baseball for boys ages 14 to 16 in the 1920's, and later Little League Baseball in 1939 in Williamsport,PA. Little League Baseball will continue to thrive in the 21st Century.
    "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
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  21. #46
    It isn't that baseball isn't as "cool" as it once was. The alpha kids are playing baseball over other sports.

    Lendue absolutely nailed it. It is the separation in skills is widening. There are kids who are playing baseball today on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There are kids who will attend camps in December. Then there are other 9, 10, 11, etc. year old of average athletic ability that are getting practice reps a couple or 3 times a week with amatuer coaching, cancelling for weather, between the end of spring vacation and the day the season starts. You throw in distinctly different parental attitudes....those who have no objection or encourage high levels of practice and competition versus parents that balk at baseball exceeding 3 days a week. Kids are giving up earlier.

    Say what you will about the athletic ability of kids in lacrosse and soccer versus baseball. Where I live many of the kids in those sports were in baseball and left because of it becoming increasingly more difficult to compete. Go to a junior high football game and take notice of the aggressiveness and skill level between the kids excelling in baseball and kids excelling in another spring sport. There's no comparison.
    There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by shake-n-bake View Post
    It isn't that baseball isn't as "cool" as it once was. The alpha kids are playing baseball over other sports. Say what you will about the athletic ability of kids in lacrosse and soccer versus baseball. Where I live many of the kids in those sports were in baseball and left because of it becoming increasingly more difficult to compete. Go to a junior high football game and take notice of the aggressiveness and skill level between the kids excelling in baseball and kids excelling in another spring sport. There's no comparison.
    For every high school baseball player we send on to play Div 3 or Comm College baseball, we send at least three or four lacrosse players on to Div 1, Div 2, or Div 3 college programs. Most of those lacrosse players could have started on our baseball teams had they stuck with baseball.

    Our kids don't seem to follow their previous generations paths...some play football and baseball, some play football and lacrosse, some play soccer and baseball, some play soccer and lacrosse etc. If I had to pick which group had the slowest average foot speed then I'd say our baseball team was the slowest overall as some of them hated to run and that's why they dropped their other sports.
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  23. #48
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    To it's credit, soccer is a simple game. It's good for less athletic kids and liberal parents.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    To it's credit, soccer is a simple game. It's good for less athletic kids and liberal parents.
    That might be the most ignorant post I have ever seen on this site.
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  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    To it's credit, soccer is a simple game. It's good for less athletic kids and liberal parents.
    It's a very good thing it is such a simple sport or some of us might not understand it.
    "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
    "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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