Buyer Beware

We have hit the silly season of travel ball. Every player and her parents have just become free agents and they are out to see what the fastpitch world has to offer. There are many reasons why a player is on the market, some are player issues, some are team issues, some are coach issues and yet others are parent problems.

We’re not here today to discuss whose fault it is but rather to give some guidance to the players and families who are on the market.

There is an old episode of “The Brady Bunch” where Greg ends up getting taken on a deal and Mike (his dad for our younger readers) is determined to teach him about the theory of Caveat Emptor which translates to “Let the Buyer Beware.” Greg of course takes this lesson and decides that it really means look for every opportunity stick to the next person. Mike eventually makes his point and Greg learns his lesson, but not before a lot of damage was done.

Well, unfortunately this same scenario is playing out all over the country as teams look for the players they need, or think they need, to take their roster to the next level.

Too many teams are on a mission to get the next “great” player to commit to their team and they will, sometimes, say or do anything to seal the deal. Promises of starting positions, tons of playing time, no penalty for missing practice, waiving of team fees, paying for hotel rooms, and on and on the list goes.

For players and their parents, unfortunately, these inducements are very difficult to refuse and so they start to look at the offering team through very rose-colored glasses. They hear only what they want to hear and believe everything they are told because they want to believe their kid is so great that it makes sense that this coach would offer her the sun and the moon to get her on their team.

So we all know that if “it sounds too good to be true that it often is” right?

Well, evidently not when it comes to finding a new team for our daughter. Parents really need to take a step back and ask themselves if it really does seem too good to be true. If it does, then you have to be the grown ups and ask the hard questions, ask for references, ask for phone numbers of other team members and their parents and treat this decision with the importance that it really deserves.

Think about the number of players and their families you know who tell horror stories about the new team they joined. How all the promises were broken and how all the incentives fell through. You are going to need a calculator to keep track of all those horror stories.

And then ask yourself, why are we the only people that the “too good to be true” will be true for?