Swing through the economy: Baseball leagues grow in numbers

Story by JORDON CAHOON

Even with the economy struggling the past few years, Youth Baseball programs across the valley seem to not only be able to maintain their numbers, but in some cases grow.

The state of the economy in recent years is no secret to anyone. Companies have been cutting back. Those employees that are fortunate to keep their jobs are forced to do the same.

Jared Snell, Academy Sports‘ manager, said the economy really has not affected his store.

“In a down economy, parents are more willing to put their children in sports and buy the proper equipment, before buying an Xbox for the kids or something for themselves,” he said.

The number of participants in the Alta Canyon Babe Ruth League has increased from 2007 through 2010. There were 264 kids playing baseball at Alta Canyon in 2007, 312 in 2008, 328 in 2009 and 338 kids playing in 2010. Even though the league hasn’t had their sign-ups for the 2011 season yet, numbers are expected to be in the same ball park – if not slightly higher.

Todd Smith has been the president of the Alta Canyon Babe Ruth league for the past five years.

“I think the main reason we continue to grow through a down economy would be because by signing up for baseball, we are giving the kids something to do three to four days a week for four to five months, all for a fairly reasonable cost,” Smith said. “Between most teams practicing twice, having two and sometimes even three games a week, parents don’t have to worry about what their kids are doing.”

“Plus baseball is a sport that almost anyone can play, regardless of athletic ability,” Smith added.

Tony Wiseman has been involved with the Mount Olympus Pony Baseball League for nine years. He’s put his three boys through the league and is currently the league president. The Olympus Baseball has seen similar growth over the same time span. It has grown from 318 little sluggers in 2007, to 352 in 2008 and 364 children playing ball in both 2009 and 2010.

“It’s hard to say exactly, but we’re expecting to have close to 400 kids in 2011, hopefully more,” Wiseman said. “The biggest thing is just making sure the league runs smoothly and the kids are enjoying it. After that everything else finds a way to just take care of itself.”

Snell not only supplies the league with their equipment but coaches his sons team in the Alta Canyon league.

“The important thing to remember is that even though money is tight, to make sure that today’s youth still has every opportunity to take part in some type of activity,” Snell said. “Not only are sports a healthy way to pass the spare time, especially compared to playing the Xbox or Playstation, but by playing sports the kids build character and learn how to work together.”