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Great Article on ESPN about 'Elite' youth sports

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  • Great Article on ESPN about 'Elite' youth sports

    http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/s...strial-complex

    Your kid is good, right? Really good? You don't want to brag, but he can do some things on the field that other kids his age won't even try. You played a little ball yourself, and you know the difference.

    Make no mistake: There's someone out there for you. He's putting together a team, and he's got a pipeline to the best tournaments. He knows people. He'll have tryouts and he'll tell you what you want to hear. It's expensive, sure, but who can put a price on your kid's future? If he's got a chance to be the best, he needs to play with and against the best, right?

  • #2
    We've rehashed that article here before. I still find it interesting that embedded within the article is ESPN pitching its broadcasts of the Little League World Series. It's my opinion that the travel ball craze can be directly related to ESPN picking up coverage. It used to be that only the final was shown and it was a big ABC event. Once ESPN started airing not only all of the WS games, but the Regionals as well, people got a craving for tournament-style baseball, much the same thing that ESPN did for poker.

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    • #3
      Great article... But I agree with Root in that ESPN is part of the problem...
      "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
      - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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      • #4
        My younger son's friends started select stuff sooner than my older son's friends and they are burning out sooner (6th grade vs. 8th grade).

        I once heard that the average, not-completely-obsessed or talented kid has 7 years of interest in him. That does seem to be bearing out given that most of these kids started select stuff in Kindergarten or first grade.
        Hitting Coordinator for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.

        I also work with the pitchers who are dealing with injury problems.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Chris O'Leary View Post
          My younger son's friends started select stuff sooner than my older son's friends and they are burning out sooner (6th grade vs. 8th grade).

          I once heard that the average, not-completely-obsessed or talented kid has 7 years of interest in him. That does seem to be bearing out given that most of these kids started select stuff in Kindergarten or first grade.
          While this might be true, it also might weed out he kids who aren't absolute baseball fanatics. Now, I'm not claiming that is a good thing. Having lived all over the country, I see this as much - maybe more - with soccer and hockey. Football seems to be the only organized sport that has consistently stuck with it's season and even that is up in the air with more and more seven-on-seven leagues forming.

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          • #6
            yeah, I get a bit tired of the old "they quit in 7th grade stuff". Many times, the pitchers got really good and were introducing legit change ups, curves, etc. and the kids just can't react well to it. I see some kids on my son's team that are studs right now, but will have a tough time if they don't change their swing in a few years. The kid struggles and the kid decides to quit because the game isn't as much fun when you are batting .300 instead of the lovely .600 batting average days of your early youth.

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            • #7
              ho... hum... Just skimmed the article. I wish I had the opportunity to play against top, national competition when I was young. It would have been fun!

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              • #8
                Good article for helping us keep things in check, even if it did go overboard. I'm seriously thinking about pulling back from travel ball after this season. I'll leave it up to my kid. We still play rec league ball for the sole purpose of her just having fun. I'm always sure to ask her after practice and games if she's still having fun. We like travel ball simply because she wants to play all the time. If that changes, we're out. One of her asst coaches is getting on my last nerve too, treating the kids like they're high school kids vs a bunch of 8 and 9yo's. I'll always practice with her, that's our time to bond and just have fun. Our relationship has grown massively over the past few years and I love spending the time with her. I've also gone through the positive coaching program and really thank the person who posted about it here. I wish my kid's coaches would go through it. :-/

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by luckysully View Post
                  ho... hum... Just skimmed the article. I wish I had the opportunity to play against top, national competition when I was young. It would have been fun!
                  The problem with being "top national competition" when you're 10, 11, or 12 is that distinction only exists in the minds of the adults who happen to be involved with that particular program. At this age it's more important to just play, play, play (not compete, compete, compete).
                  "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                  - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                  Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                    The problem with being "top national competition" when you're 10, 11, or 12 is that distinction only exists in the minds of the adults who happen to be involved with that particular program. At this age it's more important to just play, play, play (not compete, compete, compete).
                    Great point. And nobody can forget the money status. Kids think they're playing the top competition, but in reality they're only playing against the top rich kids in that area, not necessarily the best overall.

                    In our area soccer runs from April till the end of May. Everyone plays in those leagues. In August, the travel programs start up and run till the end of September.
                    I wonder if the same could work for baseball.
                    Have everyone play in the local rec league from May till end of July. Then have the select or elite teams play from August till end of September.
                    And make it so that if you want to coach travel, you have to coach a rec team.
                    Rec teams won't be watered down and all kids will get good coaching too.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hank1974 View Post
                      Great point. And nobody can forget the money status. Kids think they're playing the top competition, but in reality they're only playing against the top rich kids in that area, not necessarily the best overall.

                      In our area soccer runs from April till the end of May. Everyone plays in those leagues. In August, the travel programs start up and run till the end of September.
                      I wonder if the same could work for baseball.
                      Have everyone play in the local rec league from May till end of July. Then have the select or elite teams play from August till end of September.
                      And make it so that if you want to coach travel, you have to coach a rec team.
                      Rec teams won't be watered down and all kids will get good coaching too.
                      Sounds like rec with all-stars.....before travel.

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                      • #12
                        Then have the select or elite teams play ...

                        There's nothing select or elite about these teams other than in the parents minds until it's 17/18U ball with college prospects playing in showcases and scout leagues. My son played for teams that were among the top ranked in the state in 13U, 14U and 16U when he was fifteen. I never considered them select or elite. His 17/18U team placed everybody in college ball. That's select and elite.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cps View Post
                          Sounds like rec with all-stars.....before travel.
                          Pretty much. But I don't think that's a bad thing. The better players can help elevate the weaker players and games can be more competitive too.
                          It can also teach some of the more elite players to be better role models or leaders and perhaps even appreciate the natural talent they may have over kids who don't have as much (I know, a tall task for a 9-year-old, but I have seen it happen).
                          Last edited by Hank1974; 03-02-2012, 11:34 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I've never heard such silly ramblings about select baseball. Select is select, regardless of age. It costs much, much more to be on a 17U team than a 7U team.

                            If you disagree with the age, then say that. Don't make up stuff.

                            His 17/18U team placed everybody in college ball. That's select and elite.
                            Many of my DDs 8U travel team eventually started for D1 schools. Would they be select by your definition?
                            Last edited by songtitle; 03-02-2012, 11:34 AM.
                            efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

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                            • #15
                              I think you could make an argument that "elite" (win/loss driven) pre-pubescent baseball works against AGAINST some kids' development. And, I'm not talking burn out or overuse.

                              Game to practice ratio for one. Lack of off-season for real development - focused development. Inability for some kids to "own" their skill set, but rather over value the skill set conducive to winning pre-puberty baseball games.

                              Given the chance to go back and do it again (pre-HS baseball for my son), I wouldn't put him in any league labeled "select" or "elite" even if it were the same price as LL. M-a-y-b-e- the one or two years of age 13 or 14 depending upon what age your kid starts his freshman year. It'd have to be a really good, really unique situation where the development was absolutely outstanding. Even then if the kid is blossoming physically, I'd say NO WAY......focus on getting them in the weight room and out on the track. That's what sets kids apart. Skills development is a must, but there's better ways to have your cake and eat it too.
                              There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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