Disabato: As travel schedules continue to expand, high school baseball teams feeling the summer squeeze


The state of highschool summer season baseball isn’t good.

That was obvious this week after watching three days of video games.

Just like the sluggish drip of a leaky faucet, the standard of competitors continues to worsen yearly.

There was a time when a majority of native highschool groups — 42 to be actual — had been concerned in a season that concludes with the Phil Lawler Summer time Traditional.

This 12 months, solely 23 native groups participated. Distinguished applications reminiscent of Sandburg, Oak Forest and Lincoln-Manner Central not take part in the summertime league. St. Laurence is the final native staff standing, advancing to Monday’s Elite Eight after profitable the Richards Regional.

The rationale for the decrease numbers, in fact, is journey baseball.

After his staff’s closing recreation this week, I had one highschool coach inform me he has coached his final summer season league recreation.

Highschool coaches have grown bored with attempting to rearrange their summer season schedules to accommodate the rising calls for of journey baseball.
It was once that journey was confined to competitors from Thursday by Sunday, leaving highschool groups to schedule video games Monday by Wednesday.

However journey continues to increase, including extra days to the season and additional squeezing out the highschool summer season league.

Mother and father shell out huge bucks so their child can play in entrance of faculty coaches. The end result? Journey is the next precedence.

Richards coach Brian Wujcik is conscious of the dilemma. In August, he takes over as president of the Illinois Excessive Faculty Baseball Coaches Affiliation.

Wujcik instructed me one of many first orders of enterprise on his agenda is the summer season league.

“We’ve to deal with whether or not the summer season season is value salvaging,” Wujcik stated. “If all the children are going to decide on journey tournaments over the summer season season, are we demeaning the worth of the Phil Lawler Summer time Traditional?

“Can we go the way in which of softball and say the summer season is for the journey groups?”

Wujcik is a traditionalist. He’s been at Richards for 26 seasons and has 528 wins. He loves to educate and train his gamers the precise strategy to play the sport, be it within the spring or in the course of the summer season.

However he’s additionally a realist. Journey baseball isn’t going away. And it’s unlikely to accommodate the wants of highschool baseball — there’s an excessive amount of cash to be made.

On the constructive aspect, nobody can dispute the publicity to school coaches the journey panorama supplies.

“We weren’t getting scholarships to Tennessee and West Virginia after I was taking part in highschool,” Wujcik stated. “However not each child is a Division I participant. Households should resolve what’s greatest for his or her youngsters.

“In the end, if a child will get a university scholarship by taking part in in a journey match, I assume it’s value not taking part in on their highschool summer season staff. But when a child goes and performs 4 video games and there are not any school coaches and all of the household does is spend cash to remain in a lodge, is that value it?”

Wujcik additionally identified one other a part of that value.

“Some mother and father are paying $2,500 for his or her child to play journey ball,” he stated. “We’re charging $30 to play in the summertime. My greatest concern for my gamers is what kind of instruction they’re getting in journey. We’ve loads of journey all-stars.

“I don’t wish to hear that you just threw a no-hitter. I wish to see it.”

Which is why Wujcik is immune to waving the white flag totally on the summer season season.

He believes there’s worth to taking part in to your highschool within the canine days of June and July.

[email protected]

Twitter @disabato

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