The Real Problem with Today’s Youth: Travel Sports

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In every town, there is a high school quarterback doinking the head cheerleader underneath the bleachers exchanging a cornucopia of STDs and breeding deep-seated insecurities.  Shortly after graduation, our anti-hero will get a job laying brick while paying child support and falling behind on his retirement planning before succumbing to the effects of CTE.  She will end up in a greasy spoon diner with a two-pack-a-day smoking habit dodging the IRS for not reporting her tips and dealing with a lifetime of daddy issues.  It sucks to peak at 18.  As you log roll down the last three-quarters of your life, consider yourself lucky if you hit a tree and terminate early.

This terrible scenario can all be avoided if kids didn’t dedicate their formative years to travel sports.

Some Moronic Parents Believe Their Child Will Get Paid to Play

It is excellent parenting to want your child to excel at some activity other than iPad watching and telling their parents, “I’m bored.”  Unfortunately, many dads decide their kid is going to play a professional sport.

  • “Just give my son five years of pitching in the majors. Then he can go be an agent”,
  • “I’m not saying he’s going to leave college early to play in the NFL, but I’m not too concerned he failed his multiplication test yesterday.”
  • “I’ve got him playing b-ball up a couple of grades–get him use to playing against bigger players, because in the NBA…”

Your kid just wants play sports as a hobby when he is not hanging out with his buddies.  You, your child’s life advisor, should focus on what really matters:  producing a well-rounded adult who will not be living in your basement until he is thirty-five because Little Tommy’s pro sport career didn’t pan out as father predicted.

Do the Math:  Your Kid Ain’t Going Pro

Here’s a chart I put together.  If you don’t believe in probability, I’ll sum up the chart for you:  It is not going to happen for your kid.

League/Job               Players                     Median Salary     Avg. tenure      Lifetime earnings

Little League Players12,600,000 Players$0N/A$0
Minor League Players2,2.57,700 Players$1,000/month*4 years4$48,000
Major League Players3750$1,500,000/year5.6 years5$8,400,000
Dentist10195,722$190,840**30 years$5,725,200
High School Teacher63,200,000$58,030**30 years$1,740,900 plus pension
Elevator Repairman720,700$80,870**30 years$2,426,100 plus pension

*4 years is the recommended time to see if you are pro material or a minor league lifer.

**Approximation

To further complicate matters, 27% of all MLB baseball players are foreign born, so that kid working on his curve in Chisholm, Minnesota has a world to beat out if he is going pro9.

Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are not going to pick your boy up in a VW van on the way to a mystical field of dreams where ghosts shag fly balls and talk of banishment from baseball.  Shortly after your son arrives at this imaginary park, he will see a choking victim in the stands.  Your all-star transforms into a doctor and saves the little girl.  The perfect son.  A great movie, but it is only a movie.

Instead, expect to pay $5,000-$15,000 a year on travel baseball8.  You’re going to cough up league payments, staff a fieldhouse of personal coaches, buy home and away uniforms, pull your kid out of school on a semi-regular basis, hemorrhage tournament entry fees (plus buying tickets so you can watch your kid play), acquire a couple of $400 composite bats, spend nights in hotel rooms, and alternate your meals between Chili’s and Ponderosa.

You’re doing all this to give junior the best training to have an opportunity to earn below minimum wage in the minors.  Ten years of travel ball at 10 g’s a year is the same cost as a four year public college at the out-of-state rate or about half of the tuition of medical school12, 13.  A father entrenched in the travel programs will say, “It is worth it”.  Everyone on the outside sees travel sports as the Scientology of organized religion.

We are not raising Spartan soldiers, who by age seven were stripped from their mothers to train as elite warriors11.  Focusing on the nuances of throwing a breaking ball or learning effective bat control when laying down a bunt are hardly the skills needed to protect country, property and freedom from foreign aggressors in order to preserve our way of life.

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As a more reasonable option, house league ball will set you back about $100 a year while using team bats, letting your kid ride his bike to practices, allow dads to coach while concurrently investing in father/son time, maximize the child’s schooling, and eating home cooked meals coupled with sleeping in your own bed.

If your house league child decides to hang up the second-hand purchased cleats and pursue something more sensible than baseball like B.A.S.E. jumping or running an underground scorpion fighting ring, the reverberation of “but we’ve invested so much in your career” will never sound within the walls of your house.

No One Likes a Helicptoer Dad Seasoned With a Heaping Side of Affluenza.

Your spouse will want a divorce.  Team parents don’t like hearing you ramble on about how your son is superior to their kid.  Your co-workers would rather get trapped an elevator while two people discuss fantasy soccer than hang out with you at the coffee machine.  Worst of all, you are setting your child up to follow a path of chasing life situations with negative expected value.

Who Am I to Throw Shade On Your Dreams that Your Son Plays Pro Ball?

After getting on the varsity team my senior year, I realized that I was never going to play as much as I wanted, so I asked the coach to move me down to JV.  The coach agreed to move me, but not the three other varsity players who subsequently asked for the same transition.  My senior year of hockey was awesome.  We didn’t have any ego maniacal parents with inadequacy issues morphed into a tyrant-like hockey parenting making Vlad the Impaler look like Mr. Rogers.  The kids on the team were realistic, because they realized what was at stake:  Nothing.  No one was going to make a career out of a game.  The act of winning was fourth to having fun, staying off the streets, and saying “No to drugs”.

I chose to focus on my education and used sports as recreation.  As for how it turned out, well, I’m glad I didn’t end up in some farm system outside of Mobile, Alabama praying for a scout to notice my ability to be a pull hitter or my time in the 40 yard dash.  Meanwhile my pregnant wife is sucked into the downward spiral that the next phone call might be the invite to the “Big Show”.

I enjoy playing in the beer softball leagues.  I am a sub-average player but it’s OK, because by the time you’re in middle age, hopefully you realize team sports are more about the team and not the sport.

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2 thoughts on “The Real Problem with Today’s Youth: Travel Sports

  1. This was a great read! Soooo damn true too! We have K involved in sports just so he’s active, but to find a program that just lets him have fun seems to be getting more challenging as he gets older. We have him in learn to play hockey because he likes skating fast. He doesn’t even really care to be on a team. But once he’s move out of the hockey skills class, it seems like everything is some travel team program, and all I see is $$$. I played city soccer and softball as a kid/teen, and the sports were never more than what my family spent on vacations.

    1. Playing ghost in the graveyard and red rover as kids will never happen again. Unless there is a way to attach a paid coach to it and claim your kid has a chance to go pro, kids are not playing those sports anymore. Then when a kid is 18, they hear “you should have studied harder so you can get into medical school and not played sports all of your youth”. Thanks for reading!

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