A recent disturbance has recently been felt in the Skipahsphere. My daughter loves playing softball almost as much as I love an ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper. The past three years of watching her play softball has always given me a big old “puffy” heart to see her hit an oversized ball and run like she just stole a television from Best Buy. Softball recently fired back up this year, and well let’s just say it’s not quite the same.
I’m a veteran myself of Little League baseball, I wasn’t blessed with any kind of special skills other than the ability to completely “imperfect” the art of a foot first slide. If you are new to youth baseball, most leagues are basically a two year age gap. The younger kids aren’t quite as good as the second year kids, but shine when they are in the dominant age group their second year. My daughter definitely fits this category, only one small problem has happened since the days I was praying to the rain god to hold off his anger at the world when it was my game day. Namely, it goes by a parent’s worse nightmare, travel ball!
Freaking nine and ten year old girls are now part of the holy cluster of travel ball? Parents are cool with this and some even openly encourage it? Not this parent! Not since the Treaty of Versailles has such a landmark agreement been reached between two hostile parties. Last week the Anderson County Little League Complex suddenly turned into a modern day Appomattox Courthouse, no wait that was a surrender, it was more like the Korean War Armistice between my ex-wife and I. Also, this will conclude Skipah’s history lesson of the day. Honorable mention to every peace agreement Israel has ever agree to only to be double crossed on.
We both came to the conclusion that softball is no longer the thing for her. It is going to conflict with her new love she has taken a shine to. Look out Robin Hood and William Tell, there is a new player in town. For reasons I’m still trying to fathom she has found a love for archery. Am I disappointed she isn’t going to become the next Jennie Finch? The answer to that is a big fat no! If she wanted to be a world champion rock painter, she has dad’s full support. I’m not “that” parent trying to relive youth sports glory through my child. I did score four touchdowns for Polk High School in the city championship game one time though, oh wait that was Al Bundy. Hold that thought, it’s time for Skipah to rant!
Seems to be getting the hang of it.
Travel ball in all youth sports is just wrong! I can only focus on the baseball/softball sector of this money grab so sit back while I, wait for it big word of the day coming, pontificate! Have you ever met a parent that loves travel ball? I haven’t, but I know plenty of parents with children that they willing let participate in this major time suck. The only people benefiting from travel ball are hayseed town restaurants and hotels. What is the purpose of travel ball? So you can be a part of the “in” crowd at your local mommy wine tasting club or the local Elks Club pissing match.
Here is how it worked in my day, you played Little League, if you were any good you made the all-star team. That All-Star team played in a tournament with other teams in and around your district. Win and advance, and you keep advancing through various stages until there is a crescendo at that age group’s World Series. Yes, most of us know about Williamsport, PA and the Little League World Series, but that is for the 12 year olds. After your Little League career was finished, you played high school baseball/softball and if you were good enough maybe you got to play collegiately.
These days, a child spends all summer traveling all over his/her local state or adjoining states to play a weekend tournament. Enjoy your summer before you go back to school? Are you kidding me? There is a tourney in Terre Haute, Indiana this weekend. The Brownsburg Bullies are playing in it and if we can beat them, we get a trophy and a pat on the back. Nevermind you didn’t get to hang out with your cousin who is in town for the summer, and you missed your best friend’s birthday party that you were invited to. Recently this has morphed into fall baseball, youth baseball has now become a damn job!
Skipah, you must be drunk, yeah I’m drunk on stupidity. Major League Baseball has recently began to freak out because there aren’t as many African-Americans playing baseball. You think the spiraling costs of travel ball could be behind it? I can only imagine an inner-city kid that could hit a ball a country mile must feel that he isn’t able to participate at the highest level of his age group because his parents can’t afford some sleek new uniform or the cost of spending a weekend in Peoria, Illinois! Bring back normal Little League, you paid a registration fee and bought a glove and cleats! Major League Baseball and others spend a zillion dollars a year on why African-Americans aren’t participating in youth baseball, pay me a fraction of those fees and I can tell you why! Not every parent can afford to spend all summer eating continental breakfasts at hotels all over the fruited plain.
Let’s dissect this even further! Arm injuries to every aspiring pitcher that makes it to the big leagues must be a coincidence. A Hall of Fame pitcher says otherwise, but what does he know? Tommy John was a pretty successful major league pitcher, he is also synonymous with the procedure known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. I terribly doubt he hoped every kid with a rocket arm had to have a UCL performed on them before they were old enough to buy a beer. You can thank the wannabe Sparky Anderson’s, over exuberant parents, and biology for your kid blowing out his arm before he’s even become a man. Furthermore, kids throwing curve balls should be outlawed in youth sports until you are at least old enough to vote. Your 12-year-old boy can throw a curveball, that’s awesome, at age 20 he can’t write his name because he is in rehab after arm surgery? You just became parent of the year.
O.K. rant is over, sorry it went so long. I’m sure that might have ruffled a few feathers, but it needs to be said. Now if my daughter wants to keep playing softball, trust me she can play all she wants. I would never let her participate in travel ball or at best it would be limited. So if she has a new found love in archery and wants to potentially qualify for the Olympics (her goal), this dad will support in any way he can. Cleats are being replaced with quivers, and who knows maybe the long sought after myth of co-parenting can be achieved. I doubt it, but at least for one instance we agreed on something. Besides boys are going to be entering the picture in a few short years, if she is an expert marksman with her new Genesis bow by then, I won’t have to be in the market for the latest shotgun from Smith and Wesson!
About it for now, I’m off to get ready for the next big episode in the Skipahsphere! Can you say Kentucky Derby is this weekend? Time to put on my handicapper hat, and go check that pedigree again on Thunder Snow!