PBI & the Culture Of Competition

Professional Baseball Instruction has been on the cutting edge of youth baseball instruction since our first summer camp in 1993. And we really raised the bar nine years later when we opened our state-of-the-art indoor facility here in Upper Saddle River.

Over the course of the past 17 years (and to a greater extent since the opening of our USR facility), we have noticed how dramatically the culture of youth sports has changed, especially as it relates to baseball training and conditioning.

Competitive youth sports as an industry has exploded. It’s happening all over the country, too, not just here in Bergen County. We’re seeing it in soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey and even wrestling. Kids are playing at much higher levels of competition at younger ages all the time. There are national T-ball tournaments, for heaven’s sake! Along with that explosion has come an increase in both the desire and need for specialized instruction. Parents looking for an edge for their child are willing to invest both time and money for private instruction.

A few years ago, an article appeared in The New York Times talking about the pressure on both parents and children to train and compete at these higher levels. The author spoke with parents, players and youth sports authorities, trying to ascertain whether all of this pressure is 1) good for the kids and 2) good for the health of the sport they are playing. (In some instances, there is actually a fear that club/travel teams will eventually force the shutdown of the sport at some high schools.) The conclusion was somewhat vague, which isn’t surprising. What we’re seeing is merely the Culture Of Competition that has in some ways defined the American Spirit since the early days of this country. We are a highly competitive culture; as the author wrote, “…the intensity of travel and club teams represents nothing more than Americans doing what Americans tend to do instinctively: compete zealously.”

In that same New York Times article, a San Diego youth sports official cautioned, “The shame of it is you see how hardened these 14-year-olds are by the time they get to high school. They’re talented, terrific players, but I don’t see the joy. They look tired. They play so much year-round, they are like little professionals.” The author of the article continued by saying, “Why did we fight the Cold War, some critics are saying half in jest, if we planned to adopt the East German sports model?”

Here at Professional Baseball Instruction, we’re aware of the benefits of private and group instruction. We also know some of the pitfalls surrounding it, too. We’d be interested in hearing from both parents and athletes on what you like and perhaps don’t like about how youth sports have changed over the past few years.

Please share your thoughts with us by clicking on “comment.”

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