Yesterday, in that “Baseball is boring” post, I said as an aside that there were other, better reasons why kids are steering away from baseball than its no-fun culture. I will grant that, yes, there is likely some element of that involved, but there are probably more substantive reasons as well.
Economics is the one I’ve been hung up on for a few years now. The expense of youth baseball played at a high level initially. The fact that playing pickup baseball just isn’t the same as pickup basketball and that if you want to develop the skills you’ll need to turn scouts’ heads as a teenager, money matters. Andrew McCutchen said as much in a recent editorial. It’s been talked about for a long time and has spurred Major League Baseball’s recent “One Baseball” initiative.
This story from the News-Journal underscores that as well. The culture of baseball is given a mention way down the page, but first and foremost is this:
In Division I, FBS football programs are allowed to award 85 scholarships. Basketball teams are allowed 13 scholarships, for a roster of no more than 15 players. The maximum number of baseball scholarships is 11.7, for rosters of more than 30 players.
And because of budget constraints, many Division I baseball programs aren’t even able to offer 11.7 scholarships. So no college baseball player receives a “full ride.”
“I can go play football and get a full scholarship,” Delaware State University baseball coach J.P. Blandin said. “In baseball, a good scholarship offer is 50 percent. A lot of the big schools give 25 percent or 33 percent.”
That, and a mention of how playing basketball is, basically, free.
So, yes, culture matters to some degree. But like most things, it has an awful lot to do with money.