Do It for The Youth: Making Our Industry More Accessible

In recent years, there have been several reasons contributing to both the rise and fall of numbers in youth and amateur sports. While the big “whammy” here is that thing that happened in 2020, there are other issues arising from different facets.

With the rising cost of youth sports comes a shortage in athletes.

To begin, the cost of youth sports has dramatically increased in the last few years. Gone are the days of car washing fundraisers to send a team to a tournament and hello days of travel ball. Don’t get me wrong, I think travel sports are a great way to get in family time and create memories that families otherwise would not have the opportunity to do, but now that travel sports are the norm, a direct hit has been placed on local league sports.

It is no secret that league sports have fallen off the ranks in the last few years. While league sports used to utilize a cap date of registrations, leagues nationwide are now extending the registration date until opening day.

Even though travel ball has a direct effect on league ball numbers, league ball organizers should still be held accountable for lower rates.

In the age of social media, many organizers are putting the registration forms online for families to fill out. Previously, fliers were sent home in backpacks to be brought back to schools to give to said organizers. While this doesn’t seem like much, it got the word out more than social media. After all, since most of the time only friends or friends of friends can see a post, it limits the number of impressions online and causes a lesser number of people to know about registrations.

Another factor making our industry less accessible is the cost. While leagues used to be free or require a small uniform fee of less than $30, league fees in recent years have skyrocketed.

I recently saw a fee for youth baseball that was $150. $150. Let that sink in! To begin, $150 is a lot of money for a registration fee. While costs of goods are rising, I doubt they rose $100 in the last two years.

If a parent has more than one child, the entry fee becomes unaffordable, causing lower numbers.

But how can we make this industry more accessible? Do we go back to the “good ole’ days?” Do we try and get a government funded grant? What extreme are we willing to go to for the next generation of sporting fans?

One thing is for sure, we as a group need to act fast. Like all sporting situations, it only takes one voice to speak up to start a change.