Everyone Should Be Able to Enjoy Baseball, Not Just the Wealthy

Emily Fong, Deputy Opinion Editor

The Major League Baseball season is once again upon us, and teams across the country are reopening their ballparks for legions of fans. As fans brush up on the usual baseball stats, they should take a look at a different trend: the complex relationships between wealth, poverty and America’s pastime. The ability for underprivileged youth to engage with the sport has become increasingly limited in recent years, despite the innumerable efforts by the MLB and other organizations to do more outreach work with those communities.

For young players looking to start early on their paths to the major leagues, economic factors heavily influence their ability to compete and progress. The cost of youth sports in particular is skyrocketing far beyond what was necessary to participate in the past. On average, parents are shelling out $671 dollars a year to cover the basic necessities for team sports, and one in five parents end up spending $1000 per child per year. These prices only go up if a child ends up playing for a travel team, a higher level of the sport that promises more exposure to college and professional recruiters, more time with coaches and faster development of players. Baseball in particular requires a heavy and expensive equipment load: fielding glove, batting gloves, helmet, spikes, bat, etc. That much money could probably cover the cost of a month or two of rent in many cities around the country.

Youth sports culture often encourages the presence and involvement of parents, but for adults working minimum wage jobs most days out of the week, that ideal becomes an impossibility. The commodification of baseball has even made the act of watching the home team play a game at the local ballpark an expense. Average ticket prices have been increasing steadily year after year, with the cost of attendance varying by region. Trying to watch baseball on TV incurs a cost, too — many teams have exclusive cable TV deals with a major carrier, requiring a subscription to watch most regular season games. College sports fans can relate to the frustration of dealing with MLB.TV, the league’s official streaming service with prices that renew every season. As with everything, it’s possible to watch games illegally, but that’s only making the best of a broken system.

The fact of the matter is, baseball at every level is first and foremost a business. But fans still see in baseball the potential for public good. Sports offer a unique opportunity to bond with one’s community, to unite people from every corner in cheering on a home team — that is why it is important that it remains accessible to everyone, not just those who can afford it.  

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Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email Emily Fong at [email protected]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Emily Fong:

    Your editorial reads like a privileged person who has had everything handed to her miserable because poor kids aren’t rich.

    Baseball is available to everyone. If your local Goodwill stores that exist in every town has suddenly banned charitable giving such that bats and gloves are no longer available, then remember that “necessity is the mother of invention” and:

    1. Make your own bat and ball. Take off a coat and use it as first base, have your friend take off his coat and use it as second base, and so on. We used rocks nearby.

    2. Ask your local high school team for it’s old equipment. Ask your local church members for contributions to buy some baseball things.

    3. Take up a collection at school. I know Democrats — by insisting that Government do all things for everyone — have destroyed individual incentive and charity and generosity. But seek out private donors. Hillary and Sanders still do it, and Hillary owns five 15-20 room mansions all over America. (I think Sanders and his wife still live with his mom). Just become like Hillary and get the “have-nots” contribute to your ambition so you don’t have to do so.

    4. In exchange for putting their logo on your uniforms, go to local businesses and ask them to sponsor your team. Use the church or school parking lot for games when it’s not Sunday and filled with cars.

    Jeez, mareeeez, Emily Fong.

    Do something except be a victim.

  2. Yeah. I actually learned to play baseball by picking up a stick, and hitting it at stuff. My only ball was crumbled up paper.I wasn’t able to buy a bat until I was 17 with the money I made working at the general store down the road. Still, that didn’t stop me from achieving my dreams and getting to play in the major leagues!

    I’ve played for the Yankees for two years now. I never needed anyone to help me.

    Dumb liberals want to take away the hard work ethic that made this country great.

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