I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Baseball in High Schools: Is this Sport in Decline Due to Costs?

“What is going on with the Baseball programs in the Escambia County School District anyway?” Was the curious question from a parent of a freshman player at one of our local, North-end high schools. 

“We just heard that Escambia’s freshman ball team has to end its season, and PHS and Washington did not even have enough students to field a freshman team to start the season” he continued.  “Our school had just 15 players try out for the freshman team---and just a few years back we had over 30!  So what is going on with Baseball in the Escambia County School District? This area has been, historically, a hotbed for baseball, sending many players to the minor and major leagues---so what do you think is going on—is it the costs?” he asked

He went on to describe his fear that the rising costs of player participation could be keeping some players sidelined.  With high equipment costs, and expensive player fees to participate—could it be 

the costs?

I hope it isn’t.

Having two boys that played rec ball at Bill Bond and NEP as well as travel ball throughout the local area---and one that currently plays HS JV baseball-- I’m not convinced it is the costs that is the factor keeping kids from participating---although it is expensive to play HS baseball.  As this concerned parent put it “Some good athletes I’ve seen at NEP are not even trying out and I wonder if it is because these parents can afford NEP (about $150.00 for a season, plus uniform) but they can’t afford $400,600, or $1,000?”

I tend to think that if a player locally is talented enough to make the team, there will be a way for the parents to come up with the costs.  I could be wrong though…

At the school where my son plays, there is an expectation that every participant earns money toward a per player commitment of about $1,200.00.  Along the way, though, there are plenty of opportunities for players to earn money toward their fees (can-shakes, car washes, fish fry sales, ad sales, sign sales, etc.).  While I wish the costs were not so high---they are legitimate costs and the coaching and the program is excellent so I have heard very few complaints from parents at our school.

The reality is that to field and equip a team and to provide appropriate coaching and other resources is an expensive undertaking.  Unlike football, which is a much more self-sustaining program due to large gate revenues—baseball requires more resources to function than it can organically generate.  And the school district and individual schools can only pony up a limited amount of funding to sponsor teams.  That is just the cold, stark reality of the situation…

So hopefully freshman baseball is not in jeopardy of drying up locally due to costs, but it is concerning to hear that several schools are having difficulty fielding freshman teams.  This is an interesting phenomenon considering this is a hotbed for baseball.

Hopefully it’s just a temporary phenomenon.

No comments: