By JESSE GAULT
The East Toronto Baseball Association (ETBA) is seeing a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in player registration numbers compared to the 2019 season.
The organization was active in 2020 and 2021 despite the restrictions made necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the ETBA ran its competitive programs only. Last summer the association ran both its house league and competitive programs.
The dip in participation has mostly occurred among the house league teams, though there has been a negligible reduction in participation among the competitive teams as well.
For the upcoming 2022 baseball season, organizers will not know for certain what the exact participation levels will be until after the March Break. That will be when many families have decided what their summer plans are and whether those plans will include a child playing organized baseball.
The hope and expectation at the ETBA is that by the 2023 season, participation will be back up to the 90 to 95 per cent level.
Aside from kids’ lack of participation, a challenge facing many youth sports organizations in Toronto is that a significant amount of the older volunteers are no longer available to help out.
However, the ETBA said it will be in a strong position going forward due to the younger volunteers who have been joining the organization, eager to teach baseball and related skills.
Due to concerns raised by the pandemic, some people have no longer been signing up to summer activities, such as baseball. In other cases, people are trying new activities instead.
The pandemic also meant many families have had to adapt to a number of lifestyle changes, including a lack of group social activities (such as organized sports, over the last two years.
However, with pandemic restrictions easing there is now a greater opportunity to once again participate in organized and team sports.
For some families, the pandemic has shown parents just how important participating in activities such as organized sports are for both the physical and mental health of their children.
Baseball, and other organized team sports, teach skills that kids may not necessarily learn on their own, such as how to interact with, cooperate with and have empathy for others. Learning how to deal with challenges in a healthy and positive way, for example, is a life skill that will help children to handle the situations of the workplace they will face as adults.
The ETBA offers house league baseball opportunities for players from Tee Ball (born 2017-19) all the way to Midget (born 2003 to 2006).
For information on playing baseball with ETBA, please contact Kevin Ainey at email@example.com or David Breech at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 416-759-9997, ext. 0.
More information is also available on the association’s website at www.etba.net