LA Times Article
Southern California parents spent more than a $1 billion last year to give their children “the edge” in sports.
The following excerpts are presented here. . .
What Drives Parents
In Orange County, one-fifth of parents surveyed in a poll conducted for The Times last year said they involve children in youth athletics for recreation and learning to be part of a team.
“What is the main reason you want your children to participate in organized sports?”
(asked of those whose children were in sports or who would like their children to be in sports)
- 20% – Have fun/recreation
- 17% – Learn to be a team player / work in a group
- 17% – Keep out of trouble
- 13% – Make friends / other kids doing it
- 13% – Get exercise
- 09% – Learn to excel / gain confidence
- 06% – Build character
- 01% – Get a scholarship
Inside Blair Field a Long Beach stadium that has seen its share of baseball, Alan Kramer watches as his 11-year old son, Joshua, begins hitting lesson. [with Coach Magno]
“This is as pure as it gets,” he says. Yet in this father’s eyes purity does not exclude … coaching and high-tech gizmos.
“Who cares about Little League? The goal is for him to be one of the best when he’s in high school,” Kramer, a Garden Grove office supplies salesman, says as his son begins his session. “Look at his back leg. That’s almost perfect form.”
Joe Magno, a director of the AABA, tosses blue, yellow and red balls toward Joshua, who pounds them with a “Lightning Stick,” a metallic contraption that looks like a skinny canoe paddle with holes in it. Magno who says he sold 1,000 of them last year…says the stick improves fast-twitch muscle control and bat speed. The inspiration for it, he says , came to him in a dream. It’s one of a host of devices for sale on the academy’s Web site.
Magno says his academy gives more than 4,500 private lessons a year… “We’ve just tapped the surface,” Magno says as he rattles off his financial stats. In action, Magno pitches not only his products but dreams of stardom.
During another lesson, 13-year old Daniel Stephenson, a Torrance freshman who hopes to play ball at USC, tells Magno he isn’t sure which position he should specialize in while trying to land a spot on his high school team.
“He’s a good shortstop and he’s a good catcher,” his father, Rod, tells Magno.
“Catching is the easiest path to a college scholarship and a pro contract,” Magno says. “Shortstops are a dime a dozen.”
Rod Stephenson hesitates- “I’m talking about high school,” he protests- but his son, captivated by even the mention of a pro contract, is dancing behind Magno, stage-whispering “Catcher! Catcher!”
“The thing about being a catcher is that you’ve got to have a great arm,” Magno says. “So we’ll have to start on a development program for your arm.”