In my previous post, Oh No! It’s That Time of the Year, I discussed the dilemma a youth sports parent faces when trying to decide where their young athlete will play in the upcoming season. As if finding the right level of competition and a healthy environment is not difficult enough you must also consider the opportunity cost.
What do I mean by opportunity cost? Ask yourself; “What is my athlete giving up in order to play for this new team?” I think you’ve got to consider how your athlete fits into the team and if he will he have enough opportunity with the new team you are considering? Will he have an opportunity to grow and develop as an infielder or pitcher or will he be relegated to playing the outfield every other inning and batting at the bottom of the order. Your kid may be good enough to make a top Majors or AAA team, however, that top AAA team that everybody wants to be on may not serve your kid. I’ve seen it happen multiple times over the last years. A kid is one of the stars of his team but mom and dad want more sex appeal in a team so they go try out for one of the top teams in the area. Their kid makes the team that everybody wants to be on, however, he no longer has the opportunity to play shortstop or pitch and as if that were not bad enough they are hitting at the bottom of the lineup and leading the team in inning on the bench.
The AAA team is served very well in that they have high caliber kid – a kid that was starting at shortstop and hitting in the middle of the lineup on their last team – is now the tenth or eleventh kid on their roster. Great position for the team to be in. It seems in my local area the top teams have turn over at the bottom of their roster season after season and I think a lot of it can be traced back to this issue. While the parents think they will be okay with their kid just being the right fielder for the sexy AAA teams they soon realize that the cost of their kid not being afforded the opportunity to develop as a pitcher or infielder is too high a price to pay. Your kid may be good enough to hold down a corner outfield position on a top team but if they’re not getting any time on the infield or on the mound, then that team may not be serving the player as much as the player is serving the team. I, as a parent, am not interested in a team where my kid is providing more value to the team than the team is providing to my kid.
I don’t want to digress but let me be clear here. I’m not opposed to my kid playing the outfield and I’m not saying the outfield is any less of a role than infield. I’m opposed to limiting my kids – or any other kids – development by having him play every inning of every game in one position, even if that position is shortstop and in my case it is. Just a couple weeks ago I told a fellow coach that I wanted my son’s split between infield and outfield to be closer to 50/50 this season. I believe it benefits there understanding of the game and their overall development as a player.
Let me close by simply saying don’t get blinded by the sex appeal of a top team. In the moment we may believe that we’d rather have our kid play a limited role on the best team as opposed to being a major contributor on a lesser ranked team. However, after one or two tournaments of your kid playing 10 to the 25 inning in right field you might not be as convinced.