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    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Minor League Sports Creates Hometown "Haves and Have Nots"

    Stardate 3892.8

    This morning I am having problems deciding how to write this. I am angry, sad, relieved, all at the same time. Out of what I am presenting, the good news is that we will be saving likely over $2000 this summer. The bad news is that another child has to go without playing minor league sports this year because of poor management on the part of the Alberta Minor Ball administration.

    I should make it clear that a lot of good people helped us out immensely trying to make this happen, and to them I say thank you wholeheartedly. It is folks like them that do make things worthwhile.

    Remember when you were a kid? Softball in the evenings? Maybe soccer or a bowling league? They were fun, yet competitive. Almost all were affordable, except maybe hockey, but look where that is going anyways. When I was growing up, I did a lot of minor sports. Softball, a bowling league, Dolphins swimming, you name it. It kept me in shape and I had fun playing with my friends. My parents didn't have to break the bank paying fees and travelling either.

    My boy, who is 12, has tried a few sports. Hockey was fun for a year, but it was hard for him to keep up with what was going on. We took a year off after that, and then he was enrolled in the local house league for baseball. He played Mosquito (age 10-11) ball for two years, and really enjoyed it. He can hit very well, and has an arm on him like Roger Clemens. Oh yeah, he's a lefty too. A southpaw. I know there is some real talent there with the proper coaching, and so do many others...

    Well this year, for whatever reasons, there are no teams in our town for his age group. Last year, there were two Mosquito teams, and a Pee-Wee (age 12-13) team but this year, only one Mosquito team and NO Pee-Wee. We had an option to get him into the house league in another nearby town, but the coach of a "AA" Central Alberta team in Red Deer wanted him to play badly. The fee was a little more, but they said not to worry. Pay us what you paid in your town (a mere $70 for the entire season, everythign included), and we will cover the rest. How could we turn down a deal like that? Real coaching,a competetive league and the travel was all within an hour....

    Not so. Last night we called the coach and had him removed from the team. He will not play ball this year at all. The original fee wasn't too bad, being about $155. Then the first games were announced, and Saturday at 10 am they are going to play a double header in Vegreville (a 3 hour drive) and Sunday in Beaumont (almost a 2 hour drive). So we were looking at over $100 for gas and food for the weekend. On top of that, we found out that there is another fee for Provincials. Another $75 to pay since their team is competetive and will be going to Provincials. So far? Suddenly we are looking at $230 for registration... Still not too bad. But it gets worse.

    They have five tournaments in the season. They have to play since they are on the team. The cost for EACH tournament per child is $150. Not hotels or travel, just to enter the team. So now, our price tag has gone to almost $1000 for fees, and on top of that is the gasoline for travelling to practice twice a week and games that are up to three hours away every weekend. I estimate well over $1000 for that actually... Now I don't expect handouts by any means, but these fees are in no way reasonable. To put it in perspective, for myself to go and play in our annual Slo-pitch league, registration is $40 for the season (almost twice as long as the kids) and the average tournament costs between $10 and $30 to enter.

    So because Alberta Minor Baseball is broke, having squandered away their coffers with pisspoor management, they have raised all of the fees for competetive leagues. Now you have to be "well-off" or your kid won't stand a chance in sports. I thought it was only hockey that was like that, but sadly, it is spreading quickly into other sports. So all those executives in Alberta Minor Baseball can go to their conferences, and eat their dinners in their hotels, and drink their drinks with strange people from other places, and buy useless management tools...

    And my boy has to explain to his friends why he isn't playing ball this year :(

    All opinions shared on this site are strictly my own. Some people may disagree and that is fine, but rude comments or overzealous debate will be curtailed. I enjoy civil discourse, and encourage independent thought. I oppose George W. Bush and his Wars based on lies.

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