I'm writing this blog from the USA Baseball National Training Center. This week 144 players are competing for one of the 20 roster spots for Team USA 18 and under team. I am fortunate to be on the coaching staff for Team PONY this year. These are some of the top players in America that money can buy. People don't realize the financial cost involved to become an elite baseball player.
Most of the kids here begin training with professionals and showcase their talent nationally by the age of 12. Below is a breakdown of annual cost to be the best in this game as an amateur.
Instruction (hourly four times per month) $4,800.00 per year
Strength/Speed/Agility Training (hourly four times per month) $4,800.00 per year
Travel Team $2,000.00 per year
Equipment (including bats, glove, cleats, etc.) $1,500.00 per year
Travel (including hotel and food for 15 tournaments) $4,000.00 per year
Total: 17,000.00 per year to be the best
These numbers are high but reflects what the top players in America are spending to be the best. If the families aren't spending it, someone is sponsoring them financially because of their ability with the return on invest being a college scholarship at the least.
The number of African-Americans competing are low at the collegiate and professional level. In my opinion, the numbers are low in participation because of the high cost to develop and showcase your baseball talent. It is often said the reason for the decline is due to a lack of interest but if that were the case, there wouldn't be baseball teams in predominately black high schools at all. Baseball has been in the black community dating back to slavery.
Baseball is a business now.
As a professional instructor for Diamond Directors, I support the position of the game because it provides an opportunity for me to make money doing something that I thoroughly enjoy. I created my organization L.E.A.D., Inc. to provide inner city at-risk Atlanta males with access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball. If you don't have money or someone willing to sponsor you, you can't compete at this game beyond high school.
The kids here in Cary are vying for an opportunity to make Team USA deserve to be here because they are talented and continuously make sacrifices to be the best. I still believe that baseball is still America's favorite pastime but so many kids are being passed over because of lack of financial resources and mentorship.
The answer to these problems in Atlanta is called L.E.A.D. Click here to learn more about L.E.A.D., Inc.