Opinion: Australian Baseball League Schools Day
Melbourne Aces on Monday this week conducted its Schools Day, an initiative devised to attract younger people and - by extension their families - to the sport of baseball, and to the Australian Baseball League.
In this instance, something in the order of 650-700 primary school-aged children were welcomed to Melbourne Ballpark for what would be - for many - an initiation to elite level baseball that may hopefully have a spin-off effect in generating interest and engaging youngsters and their families in the sport.
While the Schools Day concept may not be fully embraced by some, there are many others who believe that it holds great potential as the Australian Baseball League strives against considerable challenges to gain traction in the mainstream sporting market.
Australian Baseball Alumni member and contributor Xavier Player provided the following take on the merits of Schools Day.
1 December 2015
When Whitney Houston told us that the children were our future there was little chance she was talking about baseball in Australia.
Many Australian Baseball League outfits do all they can to draw the next generation into baseball by hosting days devoted to getting school kids through the gates.
The Melbourne Aces hosted their Schools Day on Monday, with an estimated 650 students piling through the gates.
While the result wasn't what the Aces would have hoped for, both they and baseball fans around the country must look at the bigger picture.
The vast majority of fans are on board with the concept, but those who aren't must come to the realisation that without the next generation the game in this country can not grow.
When looking at growth, one way is to use the 650 kids that came through the gates.
If the Aces get a 10% return rate that's up to 65 new families coming through the doors.
Even at a 1% retention rate that's 6.5 new families.
Tickets, food, drinks and merchandise? That's potentially hundreds of dollars being spent per family before we look at memberships for next season.
There's no way those numbers can be twisted into a negative and that's not even factoring in kids begging their parents to let them play. These are the very kids who may now be dreaming of playing for the Aces.
That's what the game in this country needs. A pathway that gets youth players involved early and keeps them hooked for life. That's why days like Monday are one of the greatest things about the Australian Baseball League.
Full credit to the Aces and the Heat players for taking more time off work to draw the next generation. Long may it continue.
Image: Roger Sidhom