In 2014, Danbury Youth Baseball had a total of enrollment of 575 kids. This year, the league is pacing to hit a total number of 350 kids, which shows a 39% decrease in that 8-year period.Get our free mobile app
The drop off has been slow but steady over the years, according to Danbury Youth Baseball President Chris Hamann, who shared his enrollment figures with me going back to 2014.2014 - 575 kids2015 - 540 kids2016 - 510 kids2017 - 460 kids2018 - 430 kids2019 - 400 kids2020 - N/A We were unable to have a season in the spring or the fall of 2020 due to COVID restrictions in place.2021 - 370 kids2022 - Registration for spring is still open. We are forecasting a number for the spring somewhere around 200 players. That number is deceiving since the previous years included both the spring and the fall. Fall registrations are typically lower than spring. If I had to look into the future for this year, I'd say our full year number will probably be around 350.
The number has trailed off every single year and while some may shrug it off, these are sad numbers for baseball fans. I grew up on baseball, it was at the center of my life as a young person. We had Little League practice, games, we'd play pickup games and we were obsessed with baseball cards and statistics.
I have four kids, two of them played youth baseball for a few years but quickly grew tired of a sport they called "boring." My kids could not name three Major League Baseball players when I asked them to try.
On the flip side, when I asked them about the NFL and NBA, they all raced to answer Lebron James, Steph Curry, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.
I have not put any of these NBA or NFL stars on my kid's radar, they found them on their own, so where is the disconnect? I think Major League baseball has missed key opportunities to grab the attention of America's youth, while other pro-sports leagues have capitalized.
Is that the underlying factor? Is it the reason for the drop off of young Americans playing baseball? In my opinion, the answer is yes. When we were young, we emulated our favorite ball players swing, but if the kids don't know who these players are, how can they look up to them?
When I spoke to Danbury Youth Baseball President Chris Hamann, I asked him about the national and local downtrends. This is what Hamann had to say:
"The national trend of lower enrollment numbers is definitely impacting Danbury as well. At Danbury Youth Baseball, we have seen our numbers on a slow but steady decline over the last 10 years or so. I'd love to be able to point to a specific reason, but it seems to me there are multiple reasons for the decline in our registration numbers."
Older Americans know the joys of the game of baseball and how it's impacted our lives. There is no good reason to submit to this decline as a long-term reality and the folks at Danbury Youth Baseball are doing whatever they can to turn the trends around. To that end, Hamann told me "we are doing our best to find innovative new ways to reach the members of the community and help drive registrations up."
One of the things D.Y.B. has done is they've partnered with local high school coaches for free winter training sessions at the Danbury Sports Dome.
The last of those training sessions for this winter will be on Monday March 21 from 6-8 PM. That Monday is also the deadline for spring ball registration. To find out more about the training session, the upcoming season or to register you should visit http://www.danburyyouthbaseball.com and click the Registration banner.
As much as I'd like to blame all this on Major League baseball, I have to take ownership as a father for not passing the game on, the way it was to me. I guess I could not imagine that it would ever be so difficult to do. The game of baseball was so central to my life and the lives of other kids from my generation. Who could have even conceived it might fall from its throne as America's national pastime?