Youth Sports: Dying for Volunteers?

Yesterday, I wrote on this blog about the possibility that South Kitsap Soccer Club may not host a long-standing tournament, the Kitsap Kick-off. The tournament last year drew 72 teams, many from out of town. You can bet that those families ate at local restaurants, got gas at local stations and likely stayed at local motels if they came from a distance. Aside from the good of the game, there is a clear economic benefit to local sports tournaments. The problem, said SKSC president Mike Kerr, is they can’t get volunteers to run the tournament.

Lack of volunteers is also a factor in the demise of South Kitsap Babe Ruth, which has folded after more than 50 years as a South Kitsap institution. Primarily, the The South Kitsap Babe Ruth Association was disbanded due to lack of players and the economy, said SKBRA president Jerry Holaway Monday.

From Annette Griffus’ story:

SKBR began in 1956 as a Pony Colt League for 13 to 15-year-olds.

SKBRA isn’t the only Babe Ruth association to fold in Kitsap. Bremerton folded last year, said District 8 commissioner Bob Fojtik. The district encompasses the school districts of South Kitsap, Bremerton, Central Kitsap and Bainbridge Island.

Fojtik said a combination of reasons led to the Babe Ruth leagues folding including: a lack of parent volunteers, families unable to commit to the time involved for games and practices and players dropping out or choosing to play select baseball.

“It can’t be a one-or-two-person show running the season,” he said.

End of clip.

My thoughts: Lack of parent volunteers and families unable to commit to the time involved for games and practices are a function of longer work hours, longer commutes and the economic need for two parents to work.

At the same time, select sports seem to be thriving. Parents are plenty willing to spend the time traveling, often farther afield than they would have to in a recreational league, and they’re willing to spend the substantially higher fees select sports require, meaning they need to work longer and harder to pay the bills. I’m not knocking select sports. I’m just saying …

Some organizations require some degree of parent volunteer participation. You work so your kids can play. Should all recreational sports organizations adopt this model? Take the poll on the home page of this blog.

6 thoughts on “Youth Sports: Dying for Volunteers?

  1. Chris,
    I really think it is a combination of a number of things. From my perspective as someone who is involved at multiple levels in my community, in education and as well as being a Team Mom the last 2 years running for my Son’s Pee Wee Football Team it is a real struggle to retain a balance between being involved and maintaining a quality family life. Here is my take:

    Parent Volunteers – The old saying “10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work” is still very true today when you are talking about volunteer driven organizations. There are those that do and those that don’t. The “do’ers” are simply that. People that are willing to work hard for what they have and it translates into every aspect of their lives including their kid’s sports. The “do-not’s” expect to pay their nominal fee (at least I consider it nominal at the Pee Wee Level) and not be bothered with any operational or logistical struggles of the volunteer based, non-professional organization. They simply treat the sports program as a glorified babysitter. They drop the kids off and do not show back up until the end of practice. They are always full of excuses as to why they choose to “don-not”. Both my husband and I work full time, yet we still manage to be a part of a small group of parents who do contribute significantly to the team and the organization during the season. The working parent excuse for not participating at some level during the season (not all duties or tasks take place on game day or on the field in general) are just that……excuses.

    The Fairness Doctrine in Youth Sports – I expect sports to teach my child improved social skills in addition to athletic prowess. “Fairness” outside the basic rules of play and sportsmanship is not one of them. Life is not fair. I want him to learn the long term life skill of being able to deal successfully with both winning and losing. I don’t want sports to give him an award for trying. I don’t want him to GET what he does not EARN. A certain position or amount of play time should not be just handed to him. If he really wants it, he should figure out a way to get it for himself by working hard at it.

    Spreading Parents and Kids too Thin in too Many Sports – What we have chosen to do as a family is pick 2 sports and commit to them fully as a family. Instead of getting caught up in the revolving door of sports programs that many parents do and doing a bunch of sports halfway. Football to Basketball to Baseball to Soccer and back to Football. Too many sports, with too little time. Putting quantity ahead of quality. Quality that includes rested balanced kids who can play to the best of their ability and the quality of parents who make the correct decisions that do not spread themselves too thin which allows them and their families the opportunity to fully participate and improve their overall youth sports experience.

  2. Hi Chris , I would like to invite you to the SKSC Club meeting. I believe that you will find that the President Mike Kerr has other motives in mind than the KKO. I believe that he will be asking the members to join US Club Soccer and Leave WSYSA. Chris if you were to look into the disfuction of the board and their reluctance to inform the members of there actions , perhaps you might find a hole different story and some reasons why the members are reluctant to get involved with the current board . I would invite you to investigate the actions of the board in the November 2009 minutes. Also the vote of the board in the 12/30/09 special meeting, Where the board voted to back a members appeal to the USSF. You can find this info on the D-4 web site under information than documents .
    Thank You ,SKSC Member in good standing.

  3. Colleen,
    I agree fully with you. My husband and I (with a few others) run Chico peewees. Time and time again I have asked parents to help out before and after a game. I only see the same few parents helping and the rest grab their kids and jet. We also at times feel like a day care, drop your kid and go (sometimes with siblings who dont even belong!) Between attitudes, non-payments, and back seat coaching, you wonder why programs are folding. For all you “do-nots” get off your butt and ask to help, pick up garbage, clean equipment, etc..
    And oh, by the way the only reason Kitsap baberuth 13u is possible is because my husband is coaching that also !!!!!!

  4. My son played Pee Wee sports for three years…the volunteers could have been paid..the organization was flawless.
    I was not one of the volunteers – I worked long hours but always managed to wash his uniform after practice and those days real grass and mud when it rained…for some silly reason a clean uniform mattered to me.

    It didn’t occur to me that I should volunteer or not allow my son to play. It was available.

    In those days, kids got what they earned … “in hope” wasn’t around. They learned a work ethic that never left them.

    Good comments, Colleen and Chris, good article.
    In light of this…why have some many blogs on sports?
    How about a blog on science (particularly interesting)
    Sharon O’Hara

  5. I volunteered for soccer, scouts, softball, church youth group, school, and our Homeowners Association. To me it seemed more like 1% doing all the work. I noticed in this area we always got the Navy family excuse, one spouse deployed. But, I also noticed that our biggest volunteers and most enthusiastic were Coast Guard family’s. It seemed Navy family’s always thought they were owed for their service.

  6. I think most people want to help, especially if they know their time and effort is really needed and not just another body standing around wasting their time.

    Each season the leaders could write out a master list of the items to be done, when , dates and times then given to the parent at the time of sign-up. The parent could sign up for their volunteer duty when they are most able to help out.

    In the old days, a core group of people did it all and that is the way they wanted it. They worked well together and things got done.
    Sharon O’Hara

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