According to my golfing friend Louie, travel team baseball seems to be a pretty profitable business. Well, I guess so if you figure that Louie and his team will spend approximately $15,000 to travel to Cooperstown, N.Y. for one week this summer to play in a two-day tournament.
The amazing thing is that along with Louie's team there will be 50 other teams there that week, which means the organizers will rake in approximately $750,000 that week alone. Multiply that times 10 weeks every summer and the grand total is a whopping $7,500,000.
And guess what, there's another site right down the road from them that does the same thing.
Now, it seems to me like these organizers are preying on the hopes of children (or their parents) with the thought that someday the kids will be making it to the big leagues because of all this baseball saturation. After all, one of the tournament sites is called "Dream Park."
So assuming that my friend Louie is being taken advantage of without him realizing it, I asked him a few point blank questions that I figured he would come back with his head bowed saying, "Hey, I guess you're right. We're just wasting our money on our ego."
Here's how it went:
Fred: Whose idea was it to go for the week?
Louie: It was both of our decision.
Fred: Assuming "Little Louie" has dreams of playing in the major leagues, on a scale of 1-10, what chance do you think he has to play in the major leagues?
Louie: One. I always preach to my kids on the team that if they work hard and love what they do then there's always a chance that dreams can come true."
Fred: Most psychologists say that parents take their kids to these kinds of events because they are living vicariously through their kids. Do you agree?
Louie: It's very possible; however, Cooperstown is more like a vacation, the last hoorah before the kids you've been coaching sports with for years start to go their separate ways.
Fred: Today's parents seem to be more "over the top" when it comes to behavior at games. Will that be the case when you go to Cooperstown since there will be teams from all over the country?
Louie: Absolutely. Seen it firsthand. We'll see what happens in Cooperstown.
Fred: Will you be one of them going over the top?
Louie: I may have given an umpire or two a tough time in all my years coaching. But I encourage the kids to turn their frustrations into positive energy for the next opportunity. This is what my parents reminded me of when I was their age. What kind of coach would I be if I didn't display what I preach?
Okay, I admit that I don't like the feeling that some people organizing these events could care less about kids and their families and are only into these events for the money. Then again, who am I to judge?
So, congratulations to Louie and the family. Going on a baseball vacation may not be such a bad idea after all.
And remember "Little Louie," it's not the broken dreams that break us, it's the ones we don't dare to dream...