TAMPA - I had a good and interesting e-mail come in shortly after we released the article about travel ball hurting player work ethic and attitude.
The e-mail was focused on how coaches need to be upfront about playing time, and the ethics of travel baseball. There was nothing in the e-mail that I didn't disagree with.
I went back and read the original article I wrote, and it hit me: I didn't do a very good job explaining exactly what I meant.
With that being said, instead of writing a part 2, I wanted to share my e-mail response in an effort to show exactly what I meant with this claim that travel ball can hurt work ethic:
"And this is precisely the point of the article. When I wrote it, it wasn't about ethics of travel baseball, and how coaches should manage the kids' playing time. But moreso, that the very existence of travel baseball has created an environment of players that are undeserving of playing time in the first place.
But that's the nature of travel baseball. Before travel baseball, you just had your high school team. You had to earn your playing time. High school football is a good example of this. You are either good enough or you aren't. If you are on the bench on your high school football team, there isn't some other massive travel league you can join the way there is in baseball to where you can bounce around until you get your playing time.
Before travel baseball, a player understood his talent level and where he fit into the big picture because he got that feedback from his high school team. If he couldn't crack the lineup on his high school team, a player knew immediately where he stood in the big picture. That helped the player to work harder, figure out what areas of his game needed improvement, and then he would bust his behind to do whatever it took to improve his game so that he could crack the starting lineup.
Now players, EXPECT to start. If they don't, they move on until they do. And because that player is starting undeservedly on any and every team that he plays for, he has the unrealistic expectation that he is good enough to play at mostly any school of his choosing. OR He never reaches that soul searching point in his baseball career where he needs to figure out how to get better at the game of baseball so he can get into the lineup. Some of the best players to ever play the game hit that soul searching point at one time or another that eventually leads to that player forming a relentless work ethic. Unfortunately for most high school players these days, they don't hit it until it's too late (i.e. late into their senior year with no college offers).
The sense of forming a strong practice work ethic that leads to breakthroughs in their game and maximizing their talent has been replaced by the sense of entitlement on one game day after another - in one tournament after another."