Why Little League Baseball Teams Can't Fill Their Rosters in DuPage

By Kmitch, Justin | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 15, 2003 | Go to article overview

Why Little League Baseball Teams Can't Fill Their Rosters in DuPage


Kmitch, Justin, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Justin Kmitch Daily Herald Staff Writer

The season of catcher's mitts, pitching machines and riled-up Little League parents has arrived.

But some local leagues are finding youths are instead stocking up on shin guards, goalie gloves and baggy shorts.

Some area youth baseball and softball organizations report they're having a difficult time filling their rosters. They blame competition from a rival spring and summer sport.

Bloomingdale Baseball Association President Lisa Tabor said she's seen a steady decline in the number of 8- to 11-year-olds signing up and trying out for the organization's 48 baseball and 12 softball teams.

Tabor doesn't blame TV, computer games or sedentary lifestyles. She and other youth baseball advocates believe the sport is losing out to other activities, mainly soccer and such non-team sports as skateboarding.

"There are just too many sports out there competing for time, but I've lost the most kids to soccer and their season directly conflicts with ours," Tabor said. "I guess (soccer) is the most popular sport in the world right now, but baseball is America and apple pie."

National Little League Inc. officials said organizations like Tabor's shouldn't worry about long-term roster even though the number of children in league play has dropped about 4 percent nationally in recent years.

"We believe it to be a regional problem because certain areas have certainly struggled keeping their players involved in the sport," said Little League spokesman Lance Van Auken from the organization's headquarters in Williamsport, Penn.

"It's a little disheartening that not everyone wants to play baseball," he said.

Van Auken said California and some Midwestern leagues have had the hardest time competing with soccer for kids' interest. …

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