Fix The Problem
I recently posted an article about the “Good Ol’ Boy” System and change coming. It is now time to provide more details on a solution that everyone is looking for. There is no question the current situation is broken and does not have the policies and procedures in place to provide equal opportunity for all parties involved. There is no solution that will please everyone, however, accountability would fix the current broken system and would provide needed structure to the everchanging world of sports.
Times Have Changed – Travel Ball Age
Times have changed and the process and or accountability has not adjusted to the current day model. The current day model is far removed from the way Rec Ball, American Legion, College and Professional baseball was managed years ago. They have all evolved but have not provided the proper structure to prevent solvable problems that are now present in today’s Travel Ball environment. We are now in the “Travel Ball” era and this era defines the direction of sport in the United States. Travel Ball controls the direction of all entities mentioned above because that is where the money is being spent creating a culture of influence that all organizations at every level are having to make changes for.
Rec Ball vs Travel Ball – The Divide
A clear division between Rec Ball and Travel Ball has split communities, broken up many long-term relationships and defines how communities are evolving. The butcher at the local grocery store or the insurance salesman in the town can now be the most influential person in the sports environment. Travel Ball success has allowed well funded and well-managed business people the ability to control the local Travel Ball scene. Someone who wants to build a team around their child can now recruit other families and seemingly rule the roost. This design is working because the unassuming parent thinks “winning” defines success. They do not understand this insurance salesman, who has no baseball instructional ability, is simply recruiting the better players and beating lesser talent. They replace the weaker links on the team on a regular basis to keep and maintain the primary families in place.
Rec Ball battles to keep numbers up as the Travel Ball coaches participate in the league for a couple of years, build relationships with the best players and then pirate these players to start their own team because the Recreation System is not doing enough and daddy big bucks can do better. The game is no longer allowing all families the same ability to develop as the cost has driven many players out of the game. The “Stud” player has no worries as Daddy Big Bucks will “scholarship” him in so they can win some games. Rec players who can not afford professional instruction and the cost of a travel team are being left out or taken advantage of.
Idealism- Build a Team and Bring Them Up Together
There is no question the idea of getting a group of 10-year-old players and keeping them together for years playing together to have them play on the same High School team is a great idea. Yes, the High School, the families, the players could benefit from this thought. The problem is there is no structure in place to allow this to happen where all families in a school district are awarded the same opportunity as the selected ones. How can you define your High School team at age 10 and how can you eliminate others who may receive better coaching, instruction and who develop to become better players than the ones selected at 10? I travel the country and visit academies, play in tournaments, test amateur, college and professional players and hear the same things in communities in all locations. I regularly speak to Daddy Big Bucks who has an 8-Year-Old Team together and who lays out his plans for this team to be the team of the future.
Unfortunately, I know how the book reads and what the ending is going to be like. These teams never make it beyond 2 years and will most likely break up. When I relay my thoughts, only when asked, they have a hard time believing what I am saying because they are living in the moment. Some smaller communities who collaborate with a High School coach can be outside this box. I recently saw a player that was dynamic and very talented, the best player on the team. This was his first time playing with another organization and when asked about why he never played shortstop on his previous teams he said: “I don’t know”. Well, unfortunately, all academy owners, baseball players, and parents who take a moment to reflect know that the coaches son of that team is playing shortstop and batting third in the lineup. Like it or not, that is why it turns out and walls are built around players due to personal situations with the team’s dynamics.
This example should caution a family about being on a team they feel is important to be on because they want to play on the High School Team one day and do not want their son to be out of the club. Being in the club can stunt development and build walls around what a player can do by pigeonholing the player and not allowing them to spread their wings and develop. Parents are putting their child in a box and conditioning their development opportunities trusting they are doing the best thing for their child. Truth is they are missing out on developing social skills and developing all aspects of their personal development by learning how to adapt to multiple other environments. A player is not going to develop to their full potential being stuck in right field and batting last in the line up for years before they get to High School. The most important development years are ages 9-12.
Solutions and Choices
Federal specifications should be presented to schools that will allow for all families to receive a fair opportunity to compete and play High School Athletics. States should adopt the federal specifications in order to create a manageable environment that is the most efficient for all parties. The specifications should include accountability for all parties. The administration, the coaching staff, the players, the parents and all supporting parties. Everyone involved should be accountable and educated on a process that provides a fair opportunity to all. All parties would benefit with the accountability providing the solutions to any problem that could arise.
- School policy with the use of facilities should provide a schedule of costs for use of facilities for non-school programs such as travel teams. A. The school can participate in the develop of teams within their school district and outline the defining factors of participation or B. The school can choose not to participate in the development of travel teams within their school district and provide a rate for use of facilities to travel teams who use their facilities.
- If a school chooses A. then these guidelines need to be put in place to properly manage the process. A. Define the name of the team and publicly recognize this team is the “feeder” team or in the feeder program. B. The current High School Head Coach and staff should manage the tryouts for these teams and should select the teams based on each athlete Sports Testing and evaluation. C. Players must pay for the cost of the tryout and Sports Testing at a cost of $20.00 per player- The sports testing results would update automatically into players athletic profile which is now visible to player, parent, coaches, staff, administration, orthopedics, counselors, recruiters, etc. D. Coaches should provide a written player evaluation to accompany the players Sports Testing data and this should become a part of the players athletic profile. E. The tryouts should be open to any player in the school district that would want to participate. There are two seasons, the Fall and Spring Season and Tryouts would need to take place twice a year for these two seasons and teams should be selected under the same criteria as described above for each season.
- Coaches should be allowed to apply to coach the teams and would need to meet the terms of a “Qualified Coach”. A qualified coach is someone who is or was playing college or professional baseball or someone is or was coaching college or professional baseball. The Head Baseball Coach should be in charge of selecting the “Qualified Coach”. All coaches should be paid $20 per practice per player and $100 per day for coaching on game day. Coaches should be reimbursed or should have their gas, meals, and hotel paid for any tournament that is more than 60 miles away. Parents should pay for the tryout expense of $20, the coaches expense for running practices and coaching games, team insurance, liability insurance for the coaches, equipment, and uniforms. There should be no cost to use the school facilities for practices. Parents who are not employed as a paid coach by the school district should be allowed to coach a team.
- Tournaments can be selected by the Head Coach and the High School program can choose to host a tournament in conjunction with other programs and or the recreation department to be able to fundraise for their program. All income generated from hosting a tournament should go directly to the High School Program and should be awarded after all expenses for running the tournament are deducted. The Head Coach (Tournament Director) can Co-Manage an event with an outside brand or choose to run the event on their own. Standard expense structures should be published and signed off on by the Athletic Director of the High School as to what entry fees and gate fees will be.
- Rosters should be set at 12 players per team (Up To 14U) 14 players per team 15U and older, and each team should bat the entire line up and play free substitution on defense. Pitchers only at ages 15U and older would not be required to hit. No player should sit out more than one inning at a time. Pitchers should be required to follow USA Pitch Smart guidelines. Player selections for the “Red Team” should be made based on the following guidelines. The top ten players, based on sports testing scores and evaluations, should get an automatic invite. After the top 10 players are selected the remaining two or four players should be selected from the top 50% of the remaining participants. The “White” or “Blue” teams which are the “development” teams made up of the remaining players available should be formed to create rosters based on the same principals outlined above. The development teams allow players to continue to develop and stay within the system in which they will go to school in.
50 Participants come to tryouts
Top 10 out of the 50 Participants receive an Invite to Participate and the Head Coach selects 2 additional players who are in the remaining top 50%
38 players would remain and the remaining players available. The Top 10 remaining players left would receive invites and the Head Coach would select an additional 2 players who are in the top 50% of remaining players.
This formula would continue based upon total players that tryout for the program
Approximate Cost To Parents To Participate
Tryout Cost $20 Practices – $300 Tournament Costs- $500 Uniforms/Apparel- $100 Team Equipment – $50 Total Anticipated Season Cost – $970 or $165 a month
Families who are in need of financial assistance can offer to work the gate, concession stands, etc. and receive pay from the High School program based solely on the Head Coaches discretion. No player could be scholarshiped into the program, they must pay their way to the program and can do fundraising on their own to raise funds for participation.
The above scenario is based on a baseball program, however, this process can be adapted and put into place for any sport within the High School. This solution provides necessary guidance for a High School program to prosper, a school district with an offer fair opportunity for all and for accountability to families who participate within the school district. Stars and Stripes Sports provides the technology solution that can manage the accountability for all parties and all process outlined in this article.