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By Tim Hunt

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.