What’s Wrong with Travel Ball?

Time to shift gears and tackle something new. After wearing out the travel ball organizations I have a new target. Tournament organizers and sanctioning bodies. Don’t worry though, the next few topics will be a little more quick hitting.

19. Cash Payout Tournaments.

The old man is crazy here, right. How can it be a bad thing that a tournament is offering a cash prize? In some cases a very large, five figure, cash prize to the team that wins a tournament. Look how gracious this group is: Giving back to the teams that support their events!

Let’s take a look at that concept.

Do you really want your kids, who are already under an amazing amount of pressure, to have to face the reality that their error or strikeout or bad inning just cost their team a large amount of money? How long will it be before we read a social media post about an angry parent whose daughter’s coach just berated her because “you cost us $10,000” or some other version of that nightmare? And, do you think it is healthy for a teenager to have to face her teammates and coaches and other kids parents right after she made a mistake in a big money tournament?

So I think it’s bad for many of the kids who play in these events because many more teams will lose out on the pay day than those that will cash in. Professional athletes get paid a lot of money to face the reality that their performance could cost someone money or their job or their future spot on the team. Does that mean it’s a good idea to start adding that kind of pressure to our travel ball players lives? You know the answer to that one already, don’t you?

Do you really think the people running these events are taking money out of their pockets to “give back”? It’s a nice thought but the real world is a much different place. My best guess is that the “prize money” is, at least partially, built into that events entry and gate fees. All the teams that enter are creating the prize pool for the winning team sort of like how the poker players create the prize pool when they enter the World Series of Poker. The more teams that think they can win creates more teams willing to pay the entry fee and of course, we’re willing to pay more to have the chance of cashing in!

We all know that we live in a keeping up with the Joneses world. If one tournament organizer is doing a big pay day tournament others will follow suit. I know I was pretty amazed the first time I saw an event offering a $10,000 payoff to the winning team. Unfortunately, there seems to be an avalanche of these tournaments growing more and more each season.

The pressure on many of these kids is a real thing that we all need to keep in the forefront of our discussions. With the built in stress of recruiting and a college scholarship already on the table do we really need to add any more. If you’ve listened to our Everything Fastpitch podcast you have heard several discussions about how suicide is one of the leading causes of death in this age group. I’m terrified. When will we read about the next tragedy where an athlete couldn’t deal will the pressure? So, you still think this is a great idea?

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?