Even Little League Baseball Isn’t Recession-Proof

Oh no! The economy’s hurting little league baseball! This is actually a big deal, because you never know who those little leaguers will grow up to become. If they hadn’t had pee wee baseball 20 years ago, sports might now be deprived of people like Chris Drury and Matt Cassel. Oh, and a whole lot of athletes who stuck with baseball too.

Little League

Little league enrollments are down across the board, and so are sponsorships. This means less players, less games, less money and less equipment. It also means, since the price of footballs and basketball hoops remain steady, baseball’s going to continue losing promising young athletes to other sports. Still, do you really want your tax dollars going to help little league baseball? Because that’s what’s happening.

Let’s see how bad the financial carnage is, after the jump.

Pacific Coast Little League and Covina American Little League don’t have enough players to fill out their schedules, so they’re going to have to play some interleague games.

La Verne Softball League is down about 30 kids from normal levels, and oh, by the way, their treasurer was just arrested for embezzlement.

The Pasadena Southwestern Little League’s sponsorships are down more than a quarter, says board president (and director of crappy movies “Eagle Eye” and “Disturbia”) D.J. Caruso:

The league’s enrollment is where it should be, he said, but the organization depends on sponsorship money, because the registration fees families pay to enroll their children rarely cover all the costs. With the decline in sponsorship funds this year, the league will miss out on some upgrades, he added.

“People who wanted to donate to the league cut it in half or did a little less,” Caruso said. “We always manage to pay our bills, but certain equipment desires or dreams we have to put off and hope we get more money next year.”

“Dreams?” Won’t somebody please think of the children?

“The family with a stressed budget will have to make decisions to make cuts when necessary and certain recreational activities such as Little League, AYSO … are eliminated,” [board member Ball] Haaker said. “Unfortunately, once the redirection away from a sports like baseball, soccer, dance, or music for that matter, occurs, it is very hard for a youngster to get motivated to get back into the activity.”

So we can all agree that it’s a bad thing that some kids can’t afford to play little league anymore. But I think we can all agree that there are a lot worse problems in this country than some kids in Southern California who might not be able to join a team. Say, poverty for instance, or cancer.

So why do many cities have youth assistance programs that help families pay for little league? With subsidies up this year, I have to wonder if the new Stimulus Package will be going towards important things, like creating jobs, rather than making sure little Billy gets to play third base.