While looking for another book last weekend, I came across Junior Baseball magazine. I didn’t realize there was such a thing, so of course I bought it. My impression is that it is a nice resource for youth baseball players and parents. However, the cover story for the current issue gives me pause.First, the nice resource part:
The magazine includes tips from Major Leaguers for youth players. This issue has Trevor Story on offense, Kyle Seager on playing third base, and Gerrit Cole on establishing the fastball. I know when I was a kid, I loved it when the players I watched on TV would share tips on how to play the game. The write-ups with each player also include fun facts about each player. The ‘Game Room’ in the middle of the magazine includes activities like a matching game, word jumble, and a crossword puzzle that kids (and/or their parents) will enjoy. Articles throughout are geared towards improving young players.
The last two pages were of most interest to me. There’s a ‘Coaches’ Clinic’ page with the headline “5 Ways to Put the ‘Fun’ Back into Fundamentals”. The topic fits right into the Hustle & Attitude philosophy – making practices and the drills you run there fun can go a long way towards ensuring the kids enjoy their season. The recommendations in the article – e.g. a balloon toss and a balloon launcher – would help make youth baseball practices fun. The last page is an essay from Dr. George Selleck, a sports psychologist and author of Common Sense: Coaching to Make a Difference. Dr. Selleck’s article is about ‘Raising Confident Kids’. He highlights the role competency, connectedness, and control play in developing confidence in young athletes. It’s a good article with helpful recommendations.
Now for the inappropriate part:
The cover story is titled “What Scouts Look for in Pitchers”. In the ‘Leading Off’ section, the editor Jim Beecher says “A popular question we get all the time from our readers is whether we have any insight on what it takes to make it to the Major Leagues”. As I go through the magazine, it looks to me like it is geared towards players at levels before high school. To have an article explaining to kids under 13 what it takes to be a Major League pitcher seems irresponsible and contributing to the professionalization of youth sports. Beecher says that it’s a question he gets from his readers. OK, I understand satisfying your customers. However, I also think they could have answered the question and done their child and adult readership a better service by writing about the issues of kids pitching too much, playing year round, and specializing in only baseball – all issues that youth baseball players and parents confront.
All in all, I think I will read the magazine again. After all, this is only one issue. If you are a parent of a young baseball player, maybe you check it out, too (and let me know what you think).