Over the past weeks, several parents and players have asked me about certain things that have been posted on discussion forums and/or said by individuals regarding the Gamers program. So, I thought that I would just address them in a blog post.
1. The costs of the Gamers program is high because “its all about the money” and “they only care about the money”.
This is a naive myth. Do the math …
Tournaments & Games $800 per player (entry fees only, we play in high end tourneys)
2 paid coaches – $500
100 hours of instruction – $1400 (thats $14 per hour, including facility rentals)
Total $3000 per player.
We do not pay our instructors or coaches too much. We pay them fairly, and they work harder than any other group I have seen.
The myth that club baseball is “all about the money” is out of touch with reality. It is all about what you get for the money.
Now, if a program does not play in high end tournaments, has unpaid coaches, does not provide 100 hrs of instruction, marks up travel costs and still charges $3000+, then maybe the critics have a point. The math does not work in that case.
But, that does not describe the Gamers program.
2. The Gamers promise kids a college scholarship
This is not true. Although we have put 52 players into college baseball in 2010 and 2011, we don’t promise anything to players and parents. The only way to play college baseball is to be talented, skilled, work hard and get good grades. We can help with this. But, there are no promises — it all starts and ends with the player.
3. The Gamers tell players that they can only get a college scholarship if they play club baseball.
We have never said that. If a player is talented, skilled, works hard and gets good grades, then he will have an opportunity to play college baseball. Some kids can play legion baseball during the summer, and still make it into college baseball.
The whole college scholarship thing is blown way out of proportion. The Gamers program is about providing kids the opportunity to play high level, competitive baseball in an environment that is both challenging and fun. We want to use baseball as a platform to positively impact kids’ lives.
Playing baseball in college might be one measure of success. But, it is definitely not the only measure or the most important measure. We have former players at very academic schools that we are just as proud of as our players that make it into D1 baseball.
4. The Gamers do not let their players play other sports.
Almost 50% of our high school age players play multiple sports. They find the time to work on baseball in the winter, play their second sport and keep their grades up. Not much time for partying and hanging out. But, our multi-sport athletes work hard and do things right. We are proud of them.
We want our players to take baseball seriously. A second sport cannot be used as an excuse for not working hard at baseball.
5. The Gamers are making money by charging parents to use Gamechanger.
Someone actually posted this on a local sports discussion forum…. crazy. Kind of shows the length some people will go to bad-mouth a program.
We adopted Gamechanger last year (the “pilot” program for Gamechanger) to keep track of our 13 teams and to consolidate all the stats. The design of Gamechanger was built around the stats that we keep as a program — things like quality at bats, and first pitch strikes.
But Gamechanger is an independent company. It makes money by providing “live” game info to parents that it sells through a subscription. It is a nice feature for parents. But, the Gamers do not make a dime off of it.
6. The Gamers make money by charging players for bus trips.
This one is out of touch too.
Bus trips provide an opportunity for our parents to “take the weekend off” and stay at home. Each high school age team does 1-3 trips per summer. Again, do the math on bus trip costs and you will see that $300 per player barely covers the cost. We travel on high quality, safe, large buses driven by Vandalia, the top charter service in the area. And, we stay in nice hotels with hot breakfast. Buses rent for $1000 per day. Hotels are $100 per night. It quickly adds up to $300 for a 4 day bus trip.
Some other programs travel in passenger vans and stay in lower quality hotels. Perhaps those trips cost less than $300 per trip. But, you get what you pay for. I would rather travel on safe buses for an extra $50-100 per player.
We do not do bus trips every weekend because we know that a lot of parents want to attend the games. So, to have bus trip costs plus parent travel costs is redundant. I am not sure why some programs do bus trips every weekend and make parents pay double. That math does not work.
7. The Gamers program plays out of town because they are afraid to play local SLABA and high school teams.
I can say universally that none of our coaches, including me, enjoys traveling on summer weekends. It is costly and a major impact on our families. It is a sacrifice we make to ensure that our players are playing the right competition and are in an environment where they can be seen by college coaches.
We would love to stay in St. Louis 8 weekends a year. We have worked hard to bring tournament operations like Pastime tournaments and DiamondSports tournaments to St. Louis (before us, these tournaments organizations did not even operate in St. Louis). We continue to work on it.
There are enough good baseball players in the St. Louis area to host 2x the number of tournaments that are currently hosted here. But, there are parochial barriers to this happening.
So, until progress is made on this front, we will not take the easy way out and have our teams/players play in below average local events that are not exposure-oriented. Until we get more of these events into St. Louis, we will continue to be away from our families during the summer. Our players need to play against the top competition available. If that is not available in St. Louis, then we will travel.
8. In addition to club fees, Gamers players have to take individual pitching and hitting lessons at All-Star Performance. If they don’t, they are punished.
First, only 25-33% of Gamers players take individual lessons at All-Star Performance. Way less than 1/2 the players.
Second, our program provides a lot of instruction that is already baked into the program fees. There is no requirement to add individual lessons on top of this. Some players do, because they are working hard to improve and want more direct one-on-one coaching from an instructor. But, it is not a requirement of the program.