What’s Wrong with Travel Ball?

One thing is for certain, there are a lot of people reacting to this series of articles. Of course, anytime you write a blog about something that people really care about you are going to get some feedback. Well, we’re going to keep the organization discussion going today with another installment:

17. Too many Gold/Premier/National/Elite/???? teams!

Let’s take a walk down memory lane where, a long time ago is a softball galaxy far away, when you attached a qualifier to your team name it was because there was a track record of success that said there was something special about your team. “Gold” really meant that your team was a top flight team that was playing all the other best teams and you were, once upon a time, trying to qualify for the Gold Nationals. Wow, how times have changed!!

Moving to the current landscape, what we have now is a plethora of teams all claiming to be something special and in reality there is not much about them that makes them so. We now have a lot of teams, and I mean a lot of teams that are all claiming to be Gold or Premier or National or whatever adjective you want to add and they are truly imposters to what most people think of when we add one of these titles to a team name.

Why are so many teams adding a qualifier to their name is the first question?

Too many coaches, parents and players think that by adding Gold or Elite or Premier to their name will make it easier for them to get better players. Now we’ve already discussed, in depth, that the team is what gets better players much more than the name of the team or the organization that a team belongs to so, we’ll skip that discussion today. But the reality is that when so many teams, that aren’t special, claim to be something special things get pretty confusing or in some cases, downright fraudulent.

The second question would be, does it matter if a team that is pretty average claims to be Gold or Elite or whatever? Of course, the answer isn’t a straight yes or no.

What I am calling false advertising hurts the players and families who join a new team thinking there is something special going on who will end up being very disappointed later on. The misrepresentation hurts the credibility of a tournaments that are supposed to be highly competitive but are not because all the “superlative” teams are pretty average. Players marketing themselves to college coaches shouldn’t have to qualify how good their Gold or Premier or Elite team. The college coaches have figured out that there is quite often nothing special about those teams carrying the special title in their name. So there is some collateral damage to the name game. But as with everything else we’ve discussed, if something is too good to be true we should be applying that logic to team names as well.

Now where it gets pretty confusing and, down right funny, are the organizations that already have one of the buzz words in their title. If your team is already __________ Gold or _________ Elite or __________ Premier then you have to up the ante even more. If I see one more team that is _________ Gold Premier National or ________Elite National Platinum or, ____________, you’re all smart enough to see where this has gone. Kind of crazy don’t you think?

Oh, so why is this part of the organization discussion you ask? Pretty simple, when you are an organization that has a bunch of teams all claiming to be your best teams that aren’t special or your best we’ve lost all credibility. If your organization has a bunch of average to bad teams claiming to be Gold or Elite or whatever then you are telling us that there really isn’t anything special about your brand because you don’t care enough to ensure that when a team claims to be something special they really are! And when many organizations are selling themselves as being the very best it’s a problem when too many of their teams don’t fit the bill.

Of course, there are a bunch of teams that have one of these buzz words in their team name that really are something special. And there are also a bunch of teams that are really really good that don’t even need to add the word Gold or Elite to their team name because they already know they are good. Our real issue is the other teams that aren’t good that are trying to trick people into thinking they are.

What’s in a name? Pretty loaded question.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?