The buzz on the street is showcases. They are everywhere, and they are being hosted by so many organizations in every state around the United States. And teams are clamoring to get in, paying huge prices to play on teams that get privileged entry into the Creme De La Creme of fastpitch showcases.
The expense rests on the parents of the players being told their daughter needs to be there among the other 5,000 athletes to get noticed and get a college scholarship. Sure, at some level this is true. However realistically, you need to at the very least acknowledge that college coaches do not have unlimited hours to scour softball complexes to magically discover the one, and when they do come to these events, they typically have a very, very tight schedule and plan to see the players already on their list. And by on their list, we don’t mean that you got an email inviting you to their camp, because those camps are fundraisers and those emails are sent out in very, very large batches. So unless you are doing all of this, in a calculated manner, with some assistance and know-how and inside knowledge – your daughter is actually just playing in a very expensive tournament, and likely padding the profits so coaches can see the top 1% they are there to see in action. Cue Cheri Naudin at Collegiate Sports Adovacate.
And then, making matters worse – big (expensive) organizations and teams are carrying rosters that could fill two teams, and greatly limiting the playing time of the players on the team. Some may see an inning or two or three the entire weekend. Some more, some less. Now- how is that fun? Or beneficial?
Top this off with the fact that teams spend all season learning how to play well, only to enter certain events and have all that togetherness thrown to the wayside with a SHOWCASE ME attitude that infects parents and players alike. Suddenly this team sport has become an every woman for herself event, that is laden with pressure and airs and pretenses that are not only difficult to navigate – but frustrating for players and extremely taxing for parents.
Each year, as the misinformation continues to spread, and parents of young players dive in head first with not a lot of REAL information, the talent level at these tournaments continues to descend. And what travel coaches and organizations tend to lead out when they are telling you all the things their organization can and will do for your player is that by the time you arrive on the scene of Scenic City, or the Sparkler and have spent all your money to get their – the top talent has already been identified by the college coaches, and you will be lucky of your team gets to play at the ‘main stage’ fields where the best teams are playing and where most of the coaches are situated to watch the players on their radar.
So are showcases a scam? Of course not. At least not all of them.
When done right they are a wonderful experience for players and they offer tons of opportunity. Some folks are running some top-notch events, that truly keep the athletes in mind (Cue Ian Jones at Top Recruit who is trying to make positive changes in the fastpitch showcase circle on tournament at a time)– while others are sadly just in it for the money.
We have personally been to showcases where there have been several coaches in attendance to showcases where there have been none. We hear from folks all the time who come home from events extremely disappointed and feeling lied to. We have seen others being given offers at these events.
The reality is that the more you know the better off you will be. And we urge you to not only have a plan in mind, but to also do your research before just shelling out the money. Fastpitch softball – is a business and a cut throat, stab you in the back, tell little white lies if it works, take advantage of the dream kind of business – and the stock in this business is your players – and we sadly see a lot of dishonesty and misinformation being purported for the sheer money of it….
So our suggestion. Be smart. Use your head. Do your research. Don’t believe everything you hear. Ask questions. Lots of questions. Be clear on the process. These things will save you a lot of money in the long run.