The numbers are down for baseball and softball sign-ups
In the last few years, it’s seemed like fewer and fewer kids have been going to tryouts, and teams have had to compete harder for the kids who did come out. I know of several programs (including the one I’ve been associated with for the last 14 years) that have had to fold teams, or that maybe took a couple of players they normally wouldn’t have just to be able to play.
But I thought maybe it was just an isolated program here or there. Turns out it’s not. I saw this article this morning in my local newspaper. It talks about how the numbers are down all across the area, and how that is part of a larger trend.
The culprit? For once it isn’t coaches who yell at the kids or anything like that. Instead, according to the article, the #1 reason is video games. Kids are opting to stay indoors and play video games rather than go outside and play sports.
There are a couple of reasons listed. One, of course, is the general sedentary nature of kids these days. Between texting, mp3 players, computers, etc. they’re just a lot more oriented toward sitting and playing with electronics than getting up and moving around.
But video games have had another effect too. According to the article, and the experts it quotes, the nature of video games have made real sports less appealing to today’s youngsters. Video games are relatively easy to learn, and offer instant gratification — as opposed to softball which can take years for most kids to just become competent.
They simply don’t have the patience for the constant repetition required to learn how to play softball. Throw in “cheat codes” in games that allow them to overcome their shortcomings by getting past obstacles and you can see where there’s a disconnect. There aren’t any cheat codes in softball.
The article says the younger ages — under 10U — are not being affected as much. But once kids get to the age where they have iPods, smart phones, maybe even their own laptops, and of course a choice of gaming consoles — the 10U to 14U range — the numbers drop off dramatically. And it’s even affecting high school sports, as fewer kids are going out for them and often the ones who are don’t have their skills developed quite as well as those of a few years ago.
So if you feel like your travel team or league has been struggling, you’re not alone. Apparently it’s happening all over.