HIgh School - Club Softball

Showcases and Exposure Events, are they wise investments?

Recently we had ESPN Analyst Amanda Scarborough on our “In the Circle” Podcast and she made one statement that rang true. “There are very few tournaments today that mean something.” This rang a bell and made us think about that. Why do we play games or tournaments today? Simple, everyone is chasing a scholarship. People have been conditioned to think the best way to obtain that is by playing in showcase after showcase.

Sure, that is part of the puzzle, but it appears to have become the most common. If you ask around, specifically former college coaches, they will tell you the best way to get noticed and or recruited is to attend a camp and develop some level of a personal relationship. Allow them to get to know you in a practice/camp atmosphere. Also, grades have become a critical piece of that puzzle.

The economics are also something you need to consider. How much are you spending a year on one sport? Add up the cost to be on the team and the amount you spend on travel and equipment. Then compare it to the national average for the cost to attend a state school. In 2016-17 the average total cost in the United States for in-state college and universities was $24,610. That includes room, board, books, transportation and other misc. costs. The average cost for just tuition at a state school was $9,650.

Let’s look at an example. This is based on real numbers from a parent with a player that now plays in College at a DI school and who played on what we would consider a Gold/Premiere team. This is what they approximately spent over four years.

  • Team Fee: $12,000
  • Travel: $18,800
  • Gas: $2,000
  • Lessons: $9,120
  • Equipment (Gloves, Cleats, Bats, etc…): $2,600

Total over four years is $44,500.

Average in-state (tuition only for four years): $38,600

Let us assume our player get’s a 50% scholarship to play at their state school, great and we are all excited. The player is getting all of her tuition paid for (a value of $38,600) and the parents are responsible for room and board. Sounds like a great deal and all of the hard work paid off with that scholarship. But wait, did it? Well technically, as a parent, you would be roughly upside down $5,900. The point of all of this is simple, chasing a scholarship, even if you get one, may actually cost you more for college.

Showcases do offer strong competition which is critical to player development. Also, there are college coaches that do attend major events and even some smaller ones. The question remains, is this the most effective way for a player to get noticed? The odds of a coach finding you, if you do not already have some kind of relationship with them, is pretty small. Coaches attend these events with a plan and players they want to see are already on their list. Sure, you may make a great play or hit that bomb and that could get you noticed. But again, you could also win the lottery.

The point is that you have to find a balance. Have a plan and a budget and realize that at some point, you will be losing money. In the end, do we not want the player to play because they love the game and competition? Or are they playing for a scholarship and the idea that it will save them money? Those are questions all parents need to ask themselves.


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