What’s Wrong with Travel Ball?

Today we continue our discussion about organizations. Now organizations come in all shapes and sizes. There are the Mega Org’s that have hundreds of teams all around the country and there are smaller organizations with a few teams from a fairly small area. More and more, though, what we DO NOT see, very often is the independent team with no organizational affiliation. Good or bad???

12. Organizations, part 2, “You Have To Join”.

There’s a very old saying that goes something like, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” which seems to have become the driving force behind the growth of the softball organization. And which has contributed to the feeling that an independent team just can not compete or maybe even survive in the current landscape. Now you still see the occasional start up independent team but, of course, they are usually gobbled up by one of the organizations after a year or two of success. More on the bidding wars later.

So the argument goes something like this, “You can’t get players unless you have a brand name organization over your team”. This is another chicken or egg discussion but, while I wish things were different, there is some truth in this statement. The bottom line is that the perception has become the reality. Not that an independent team can’t be successful but more so that no one is even willing to try.

Parents and players looking for a team have been fed the perception that you have to have a brand name attached to your team long enough now that the vast majority of them believe it. Even when you see the occasional independent team have some success they are quickly overwhelmed by the popular discussion that they would be so much better off in a brand name organization. This cycle all but guarantees that the trend towards everyone being in an organization will continue to grow at an exponential rate. There are very few opportunities for the independent to remain an example that they can sustain long term because “joining is easier than fighting”!

There are many reasons why people think that joining an organization is beneficial. Much more on how much of that benefit is real versus imagined in the next installment but as we’ve already established the perception of these benefits is what is ruling the day. And is the benefit really worth what is costs?

To quote the great Ricky Bobby, “Buckle up, it’s going to get bumpy!”

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?