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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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America's pasttime shrinking for Pleasanton youth

Uploaded: Dec 3, 2015
When I grew up in Pleasanton many, many years ago, the only organized youth sport was Little League baseball. I played a bit before moving on to middle school and then high school athletics.
Late in my senior year in high school, there were fledgling youth soccer programs that were just starting in Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin.
Those soccer programs, for both boys and girls, have flourished in the years since and become the dominant youth athletic programs. For top-level clubs, that involves employing professional trainers and top coaches to ensure that players receive top notch coaching. The recreational level programs have continued for both boys and girls.
Athletic programs for girls, driven by the passage of Title IX at the federal level that mandated equal opportunity for girls, also drove the explosion in youth participation.
In addition, new sports have come onto the scene big time—particularly lacrosse. Nowadays that is just one of the many choices: baseball/softball, football, basketball, swimming, water polo, tennis and golf.
There are as many young people in town as ever, but the result—which may also effected by changing ethnic demographics of Pleasanton and Dublin—is Little League is shrinking.
Pleasanton American and Pleasanton National little leagues announced they will merge into a single league for the 2016 season. The stated goal is to create a stronger, unified league to continue to provide baseball for boys and girls.
Here’s wishing them good luck. Two Livermore leagues also are merging.
The expansion in the types of youth sports have created lots of opportunities for young people and that is good news.
Sadly, from my viewpoint, the expectation that young people will play youth sports has diminished participation in traditional youth programs such as the Scouts and 4-H. 4-H was a major part of my upbringing, as well as my wife’s, and we have used both the practical skills (electricity and woodworking, cooking and sewing) and more importantly the leadership and public speaking skills throughout our lives.
We were blessed to be in the sweet spot for the 4-H program in Alameda County, guided by foresighted and wise University of California extension leaders. When a group of us in our mid-60s gathered over the summer to reminisce it was clear what an important role the program had played in many of our lives.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Dec 5, 2015 at 11:19 am

Baseball is a summer sport. When Little League was the "only" organized sport for younger children, the season started in May and ended in July. The month of August was for All Star playoffs with the best going on to the LL World Series. Now the season is scheduled around school and starts in March and ends in May. The real baseball season is reserved for traveling teams. Have you ever been to a late afternoon Little League game in March and April. The poor kids and fans are freezing their butts off. The only players keeping warm are the pitcher and catcher. And you wonder why Little League is loosing the interest of kids? The only smart ones in this equation are the kids who choose a sport where they can stay warm, like lacrosse, soccer, or basketball played in a gym.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 5, 2015 at 12:08 pm

I've never frozen and I've attended dozens of outside sports events... get real...if you're such a fuss budget, I suggest you watch all sports on TV...i rest my case...what a wus

Posted by Baseball Fan, a resident of Birdland,
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:05 pm

I don't think that the fall in participation in the Little League program is due to children finding other sports to participate in. I believe that there are just as many children participating in baseball as ever before, but in the travel ball leagues. Little League is geared toward training and encouraging all kids play and ensure some time on the field and at bat. I believe more children are leaving the "warm hug feeling" of Little League and participating in the more competitive arena of Travel Ball. I think the more competitive kids, or kids that want to build up their skills and compete at a higher level move toward that arena.

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