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E-sports on the rise; youth sports suffer
Showalter a good choice to manage Mets, but…
Good morning, all. I hope your week is off to a great start, as short as it may be for many.
As the sports world is once again colliding with Covid-19, thanks to the rise of the Omicron variant, I could not help but notice a story in last week’s NY Times’ sports section. It dealt with the rise in E-sports and focused on a family in Texas. E-sports is growing in popularity, helped by the pandemic, when sports activities were curtailed and youth turned to other interests.
The piece is particularly interesting because the parents of the two boys who were the main subjects in the story, did not want their kids playing football. Mind you, this is in football-mad Texas, where the high school football season just ended this past weekend. The parents felt football was too dangerous.
As the story mentioned, youth participation in sports was dropping before the pandemic. The decline has accelerated, as the pandemic continues. This quote by Dr. Travis E. Dorsch, associate professor and founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University, is especially telling:
“There is a lot more stuff competing for the attention of young people — E-sports is a big one. As kids get older, there is more tug at them academically and socially. We’re seeing a lot of dropouts. This creates a reckoning for youth sports.”
No question youth sports is at a crossroads. As kids become more adept at playing E-sports, where being all thumbs can be a plus rather than a curse, organizers of youth sports are more concerned they may become part of a bygone era. Professional sports leagues and collegiate sports are also watching the trend.
The University of Michigan, where football is king, is offering scholarships to E-sports participants. An expert in E-Sports can compete for millions in prize money. The possibilities are endless.
The day may come when more people are watching an E-Sports event on You Tube, Twitch or television than the World Series. Think I’m kidding? Many E-sports channels on You Tube consistently draw hundreds of thousands of views. It is safe to say E-sports is more than a fad. In fact, it has the lasting power of a new generation, prepared to relegate the sports landscape on which older generations were weened to the sidelines.
Showalter a good choice, but…
Can we give Buck Showalter a chance to have his first press conference in a new uniform, before we assign the New York Mets a spot in the 2022 World Series? Make no mistake, billionaire owner Steve Cohen is proving he will share a portion of his fortune to turn the Mets into the best team money can buy. And Showalter is an excellent choice to parlay Cohen’s fortune. His managerial acumen is among the best, but let’s also remember that in 20 years as a manager with the Yankees, Arizona, Texas and Baltimore, Showalter has never won a pennant, let alone a World Series. During that span, he has won two divisional titles.
At 65, this is probably Showalter’s last crack at managing in the big leagues. And he will join Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Dallas Green and Joe Torre as the only people to have managed both the Yankees and the Mets. But if he wants to cement his legacy, he is going to have to win at least one championship in the next three seasons, the length of his new contract with the Mets. Failing that, Showalter will be remembered more as the second coming of Gene Mauch, rather than the second coming of Joe Torre.
Steph Curry brings back memories
I love watching Stephen Curry play basketball, enjoyed watching him set the NBA’s all-time record for three-point baskets last week in New York. But I really loved reading the story about the big crowd that turned out early in Boston, before the Warriors-Celtics game, to watch the Golden State guard’s pregame routine.
Curry’s pregame preparation includes launching three-point shots from anywhere, whether it be the court, a tunnel in the arena or a shot from the stands. Now that’s great stuff.
It reminds of the days arriving early at the park for a Major League Baseball game, to watch ball clubs take infield practice. Teams don’t do that anymore, but when they did, some of the infielders would dazzle, helped by a coach who knew how to handle a fungo bat. It might be a good idea if big league clubs borrowed a page from Steph Curry’s playbook and resurrected infield practice with fans in the stands.
That is it for today. As always, thank you for your support. I am going to take next week off from writing the newsletter, but will return after the New Year. To those who celebrate Christmas, have a Merry Christmas and to all, Happy Holidays. Be safe, healthy and have a Happy New Year!