September 10, 2018
In America, last year baseball and softball had a combined total of 25 million participants according to an annual report conducted by the Sport and Fitness Industry Association. This figure of participation is more than any other team sport in the United States. In 2016 baseball participation increased by 7.7% and there was a similar increase in softball too, up by 8.1% (Topline participation report).
In addition to this, there has been a steady rise in European baseball. According to the Confederation of European Baseball, the number of competitive European baseball players has surged from 18,133 in 1970 to 112,303 in 2010. There have been over 40 players from nine European countries that have represented a team in the North American Major and minor league – so there is talent in Europe for sure.
If you compare the US to the UK figures where the highest participation reached 22,274 people in 2015, more recently in- 2016 participation figures dropped to 21,300 (Sports England). Softball is played by 64,000 11-15 years old’s and there are 500 teams in more than 20 league across the UK. Staggeringly, only 18% of people in the UK have experienced baseball first hand.
At PitchLine our aim is to increase the participation in sports worldwide, especially baseball. We believe there is no reason for there to be such a gulf in participation between the UK, Europe and America. We strongly believe PitchLine can help increase participation by addressing current barriers within the sport.
Within the UK the majority of people have very little knowledge of baseball. There is a wealth of experience in our team when it comes to baseball knowledge and coaching, so when booking our fully automated simulators we are happy to educate and inspire new or existing players.
One of the main barriers to participation is the lack of quality facilities at grassroots level. Some baseball clubs often lack the most basic training equipment such as a batting cage. Without cages available, the opportunity to practise simply isn’t there. Therefore, more needs to be done to make baseball accessible and inclusive to the ever-changing society we live in. PitchLine offers a portable hitting cage, all we need is a 15 x 3-meter space and access to power.
For clubs that do have good training facilities, participation may still be falling due to the length of baseball matches. In the 21st century, our society is extremely time conscious. But most baseball matches take up the majority of the day and don’t fit in well with people’s social schedules. By contrast, football matches take no more than 90 minutes. People often work weekends which means even if they wanted to play baseball they can’t dedicate their whole Saturday to it. Therefore, one of the reasons participation is dwindling is because the time it takes to play a baseball match does not fit well within modern society.
However, our baseball simulators allow greater flexibility with your time. You don’t have to rely on training with other players as our fully automated simulators can be used individually. This means whenever you have the time you can practise. You can also develop your game quicker than through normal practice as you have a guaranteed quality of pitching to test you as a hitter.
Another cause of falling participation levels is the cultural barriers. This perception is a problem as it can stop people from other demographics playing because they fear social exclusion. For example, some girls may view baseball as a ‘boys sport’. This stigma can put them off taking part.
PitchLine also works to help break down cultural barriers. We will carry out events in all types of communities as we want to show that baseball can be played by anyone no matter your age, ethnicity or gender.
Our vision as a company is to increase participation in sport. We will work tirelessly to help make baseball accessible to everyone. Contact us if you would like to be part of the movement.
Click here to find out more about what our simulators can offer.