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Baseball Fever Policy

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This document was based on a similar policy used by SABR.

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Baseball participation report from Sports and Fitness Industry Association

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  • Baseball participation report from Sports and Fitness Industry Association

    Don't know if this was only recently posted, but there is a sample baseball survey participation report from Sports and Fitness Industry Association, from 2012, here (the sample report says their prior name, Sporting Goods Manufacturer's Association):

    https://www.sfia.org/enews/SAMPLE_SF...le%20Sport.pdf

    Note that baseball participation has since declined by around 5% so you could shave off around 5% off all the numbers you see and get a fairly reasonable estimate for 2018.

    I found some of the participation numbers shocking so I called and just got off the phone with someone there to better understand what they mean by "participation". Once she explained, the numbers made sense.

    That "6 million kids play youth baseball" number throw around is seriously misleading. The number is probably under 5 million. In detail:

    The woman I spoke to explained that participation means doing anything. Anything at all. So going out to play catch with Dad for 10 minutes counts as having participated 1 time. Going to 2 practices in a week counts as having participated 2 times.

    The relevance is that they segment results by:
    • Casual Participants (1-12 times/year)
    • Regular Participants (13-24 times/year)
    • Frequent Participants (25+ times/year)

    In my mind, I divide kids into roughly 4 groups:
    • Never play baseball
    • Maybe toss a ball around occasionally but nothing organized - not even sandlot
    • Casual rec league player (or regularly playing sandlot would count)
    • More serious players that may or many not play rec league, but definitely play both Spring and Summer ball, and possibly more
    Obviously, the way I think about it does NOT correspond to how this survey is conducted, because most casual rec league players will go to at least a dozen games, at least a dozen practices, and maybe play catch with Dad a couple times, making them a "frequent participant."

    So if you're after the number of baseball players who play some form of organized baseball, it's basically going to be the people in the frequent participant category and that's it. That number in 2012 was 4.978 million between ages 6-17 according to this survey. If you want to add in 6-year olds, the number bumps up to probably something like 5.3 million, but there's been a 5% decline since 2012 so . . . .

    Participation in organized baseball in the U.S. is just under 5 million for ages 5-17.

  • #2
    So what's the point, five million sounds like a lot to me...

    Here is a maybe relevant article:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...sports/574975/

    "The state of youth sports in America is either booming or suffering, depending on which box score you’re checking."

    "But dig into the numbers, and a more complex, two-track story emerges. Among richer families, youth sports participation is actually rising. Among the poorest households, it’s trending down. Just 34 percent of children from families earning less than $25,000 played a team sport at least one day in 2017, versus 69 percent from homes earning more than $100,000. In 2011, those numbers were roughly 42 percent and 66 percent, respectively."

    Comment


    • #3
      How many kids are playing nationally is out of any one person’s control. An important lesson in sports and any other endeavor is don’t waste tIme on events you can’t control. What I concerned myself with is helping to provide quality sports experiences in our community. I spent sixteen years on the local youth sports board and/or baseball basketball committees, baseball and basketball sponsorship subcommittee, being a league commissioner and coach in rec and travel. This is where you have impact.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by bbrages View Post
        So what's the point, five million sounds like a lot to me...

        Here is a maybe relevant article:

        https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...sports/574975/

        "The state of youth sports in America is either booming or suffering, depending on which box score you’re checking."

        "But dig into the numbers, and a more complex, two-track story emerges. Among richer families, youth sports participation is actually rising. Among the poorest households, it’s trending down. Just 34 percent of children from families earning less than $25,000 played a team sport at least one day in 2017, versus 69 percent from homes earning more than $100,000. In 2011, those numbers were roughly 42 percent and 66 percent, respectively."
        They ultimately got their info from the industry report I linked to (Aspen cites having got their data from them). It does have it broken out by income and yes - it's quite apparent that baseball is disproportionately played by players with high income-earning parents.

        Comment


        • #6
          Good rec programs can keep kids coming, but even rec leagues require kids to be able to have a support structure to get them there. When you consider the many kids around here that do not have parents in the household (many being raised by aunts, uncles, or grandparents), then it is clear that they are not likely to even make it to rec league. Where these kids play sports is football. Football is 100% free, and is after school at the school itself. The kids just go home later on a bus than they would if they didn't play football. Also, these kids get watched for a couple of hours after school, and discipline is handled by their football coaches. Overall, I see it as a positive. Also, football can be started at a later age and a kid can be a major contributor rather quickly.

          One thing I notice around here is that they have baseball/softball fields next to the elementary schools that are in disrepair. I figure that there was a time when kids would play sports at these fields, maybe after school, but this is clearly not the case now. If one wanted to increase baseball participation, they'd have to follow the football model, but at a younger age: have practices/pickup games after school that were monitored by an adult. It would cost money, but not tons. Football can pay for their stuff because their attendance around here is huge, along with sponsors, etc. Even HS baseball has a lot of costs associated with it that make it comparable with a midlevel travel team.

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Viking0 View Post
            Football is 100% free, and is after school at the school itself.
            Good point. Other than a pair of cleats youth football provides everything. Back in my day rec baseball leagues supplied team bats along with the batting and running helmets (yep, running helmets were a thing). We also played in our sneakers and jeans and the league provided a t-shirt and cap in the lower youth leagues. Today's youth baseball players have gloves, helmets, bats, batting gloves, and more. Even cheap gloves, bats, and cleats add up.

            Originally posted by Viking0 View Post
            One thing I notice around here is that they have baseball/softball fields next to the elementary schools that are in disrepair. I figure that there was a time when kids would play sports at these fields, maybe after school, but this is clearly not the case now. If one wanted to increase baseball participation, they'd have to follow the football model, but at a younger age: have practices/pickup games after school that were monitored by an adult.
            A lot of schools don't let anyone outside the school on the fields after hours. In our area all of the high school and middle school fields are locked behind a fence. Town owned fields are available, but they are usually being used by rec ball, travel ball, and adult softball. Our fields do have lights, but those lights are turned off when a paying organization is not on the field.

            When my son was in elementary school he wanted to bring a wiffle ball and bat so the kids could play ball at recess. The school denied it because they considered the plastic bat to be a weapon. Teachers were unwilling to supervise the game at recess. Even in middle school they don't play baseball or softball in PE class anymore.

            Personally, I think that rec leagues need to change. I know that my son has gone through a ton of bats, cleats, and even a few gloves because he grew out of them. Over the years I've given away much of that equipment to kids I coach (like the inevitable kid that shows up with a plastic glove) but maybe rec leagues should start asking for old equipment to be donated so that it can be used by kids that need equipment. Maybe knock $5 off the registration fee for each piece of equipment donated.

            Inventory the items and hand them out to the needy kids at the beginning of the season and collect them at the end of the season.

            Our league also makes it easy for parents that cannot afford the registration fees. In lieu of paying teh fee parents have to volunteer at the concession stand during the season.

            Comment

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