FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. Familiar with the feeling? It is more a parental problem than a player problem. Nevertheless, the anxieties, doubts, and fears seep into player psyches, as if by genetic code and transmission. And it can destroy the joy of playing ball and being a kid. Why? Because the same mindset that has led to the college admission scandal on a national level, not surprisingly, is rife in the world of travel baseball where upper middle class parents extend themselves to pay for the next showcase, clinic, recruiting service, to buy their sons the “edge.” FOMO… Fear of missing out. Sorry PBR; Sorry Perfect Game; Sorry Ruffnecks! None of us has the magic bullet to get your kid where YOU, their parents, want them to go. Let’s consider realities.
Talent trumps most everything else. Preemptive talent is… preemptive. There are several definitions, but let us assume it is the top 5% of all players: Pitchers, hitters, position players. Talent is what every coach looks for. Talented players draw attention… The greater the talent, the more attention.
Pitchers command attention. They are prioritized. If you are a lefty, work on your arm. It can distinguish you and separate you from the pack. Catchers hold a double edged sword: If a college needs a catcher in your class, you can be in the mix. If a college is NOT recruiting a catcher in your class, then there is not much you can do. Move on to other schools to consider. SPEED: If you have speed, it is a tool to show off whenever you can… especially running hard on a ball you know might be an out! BAT TALKS: And your bat talks! It doesn’t talk in a polished video. It doesn’t talk in a batting average. It talks through performance… loud, explosive, concussive swings that result in hard hit balls all over the field, regardless of the outcome.
Baseball is a college sport that, at its highest level (Fully funded Division I programs), have 11.7 scholarships per 35 man roster. If you are aiming for a scholarship, you may be chasing “fool’s gold.” Give ANY college recruiter and easy path to present you to the college admission office and you open more doors. Of course preemptive talent makes a difference (see Reality #1), but being a good ball player and a good student give you more options. There are so many walk-on opportunities (not tryouts), and merit money options that big time colleges can work into the recruiting journey for good students.
The most difficult reality to address is the human condition. People will read this article and walk away with the sense that “It doesn’t apply to me.” “My boy is different.” Or “We know somebody and can afford to give him an advantage.” Yes, there are those who will justify and rationalize their actions at the outcome. The problem is what it does to the player along the way. Not every player will have the intended outcome a parent desires, not withstanding money spent on showcases, college clinics… no matter how much is spent in travel to colleges and on recruiting services and websites.
Parents love their kids. They want what is best for them. They also want what THEY think is best for them. And this is a disservice. Recently, a very good Ruffneck hitter showed up to a Fall Baseball game and declared to a coach, “My exit velocity was 91 at a PBR Showcase!” The wrong focus, to be sure. Really? Who cares? Other players are heading to Florida for the Showball Head Coach Showcase. $$$. And substantively, none of those dollars will influence the outcome. FOMO.
And the Frenzy is as much evident in the fall as during the baseball season. Go play soccer or football. Be an athlete! Is anything really gained by spending money traveling to Florida in October? Running into a tropical storm! Sure the colleges chase the events, but they have to. It’s a runaway train that has a life of its own. Sadly.
So where does this all go? We do not have the answer. But we will stay the course. We play good, team baseball. We have terrific kids and wonderful parents. But the FEAR is palpable. Focusing on “exit velocity,” external factors, too many showcases, all add to the pressure. We believe in our players. Our 2019 “Senior” team played incredibly well in Alabama at the Perfect Game Elite Championships in July of 2019. Why? Because we have solid players who play hard… as a TEAM. We earned a #8 seed out of 32 teams. Many of the players on that roster are headed to high academic, NESCAC, Division III schools. We are pleased for them. They are good ball players! We have a Lousiville commit too. Ivy’s and others. We love them all. They can all play! And we know they will get to their college and contribute with heart, soul, and understanding. NO FOMO. Get over it.