DISCLAIMER: All of the information in this blog entry is strictly the opinion of me only. None of the thoughts or opinions are representative of any other baseball association or member. The information provided is based on limited knowledge provided to me through various conversations and paperwork. I welcome the open discussion of this information and am willing to make amendments where evidence is proven to the contrary.
BASEBALL ONTARIO AS OUR BASEBALL GOVERNOR
Ontario does not have a Provincial Sports Organization (PSO) that represents the majority of baseball players and coaches.
Baseball Ontario (OBA) is recognized as Ontario's PSO for baseball.
Although the object of Baseball Ontario is to "foster and improve baseball at all levels in the province", the current mandate governs competitive rep players only. This leaves 80% of players and coaches without an organization to assist them.
Before I get too deep into this blog, I think it is important for you to know where I am coming from. How have I been fatefully lead down this path and why would I bother to care?
First and foremost I am a Canadian citizen. I am a taxpayer, father, volunteer. I am a youth rep and house league coach. I am appointed as the Manager of Player and Coach Development for my local baseball association. I am obsessively compulsed with growing the game of baseball in this country.
Until 5 years ago, I didn't know the politics of baseball. I didn't know about Long Term Athletic Development, PBLO or Rally Cap.
I was simply a Dad who played baseball as a kid and wanted my sons to live those experiences. I started by helping coach Noah's T Ball team.
It became obvious from the beginning that I would need to take the lead in coaching. The association was literally dropping equipment bags and asking any parent to pick it up. That was their screening process and coaching clinic rolled into one.
I coached him in house league for 3 years. Each year, our team always ended up having the best players at the end of the year. When I was selected to be the Rookie Ball Rep Manager, the team I selected at tryouts comprised of 70% of the house league players I coached.
Over the last 3 years, the separation between my team's skill and their counterparts in house league has broadened immensely.
I wanted to get involved at the executive level of the association and solve the inefficiencies in house league training.
I came upon the Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) document by Baseball Canada. It made so much sense and I began to implement the ideas in an attempt to repair the development system at the association.
I didn't want to stop there. I wanted every boy and girl in this province to experience the same baseball experience, learn the game and stay with the game for life.
I attended the Baseball Ontario AGM in 2011. I learned how the whole operation works. I connected with people, asked questions and made statements that I felt would encourage debate.
With the help of a strong executive board we implemented lofty ideas like our indoor training facility, created year round baseball programs for house league players and adopted LTAD programs like Rally Cap. We prepared for an equal opportunity system that would allow all players to continue playing baseball into adulthood.
I asked Baseball Ontario for a small donation/ grant to help us begin the Rally Cap program. When I was told that they do not give any donations or grants, I began to question what their purpose was.
I attended the 2012 AGM with the motive of finding out one answer. Why does Baseball Ontario not support Grassroots (House League) programs?
To my surprise, I got a point blank answer at the Hot Stove event. Both the 2nd Vice President and the Treasurer stated that Baseball Ontario is not mandated to govern House League. They went on to say that "we don't get anything from them, they don't pay a membership".
I am not some disturber looking to shake things up for drama. I sincerely want to help all parents in this province develop quality baseball programs for all children in their community.
GRASSROOTS PROGRAMS STUCK WITH NO OPTIONS
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) provides grants for PSOs. The MTCS cannot fund local sports associations directly. It must flow through the PSO.
Baseball Ontario receives grants and funding from the MTCS. Their application for funding suggests that they use it for LTAD initiatives such as Active Start, Fundamentals and Learn to Train. The application also states that the funding will assist in coach' training.
Why are they applying for funding for programs they don't run?
Any local baseball association that wants to start a new LTAD program cannot receive funding directly from the government and Baseball Ontario (who the money is supposed to filter through) will not give it to them.
If a local Mom or Dad wants to be trained under the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), they must pay a Baseball Ontario affiliate to attend the clinic. Most of these affiliates charge more for the NCCP training than Baseball Canada charges them. They received funding from MTCS to aid in coach's training. Not only do they refuse to help pay for the training, they charge more than is required.
Baseball Ontario earns profits from local volunteers for the programming that the government funds them to perform.
Baseball Ontario is using Grassroots programming as a reason to get provincial funding (Over $150,000 in 2012). They tell their members that they do not give any of that funding to Grassroots programs because of their Rep mandate. They charge their members a surcharge for Development programs.
They are collecting money from the public and private sector for LTAD development programs that never filter back to their intended targets.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
All members of Baseball Ontario must agree to change the mandate. In order for our province to run effective programs like they do in BC and Quebec, the money that our taxes pay for must be allowed to filter through the PSO down to the local Moms and Dads that run the programs.
In February, Baseball Ontario will be holding a Special AGM to discuss the formation of a new High Performance division in Midget (15+). The purpose is to solve the loss of player registration at the midget age level.
As the best skilled players leave to enter Elite Leagues such as the Premier Baseball League of Ontario (PBLO), the remaining players are quitting because of the low caliber of baseball that remains.
The High Performance Committee of Baseball Ontario believes that if they allow players to leave their local associations and congregate to a High Performance team, more players will elect to stay within Baseball Ontario rather than play in Elite Leagues.
This change would require a constitutional amendment that allows players at Midget age to change local associations without a release.
I truly think it is absurd to even consider forming a High Performance League when over 80% of the baseball players in Ontario are left without adequate training and programs.
If you want players to stay playing baseball, there is only one way to do it. The way that every other province in the nation is doing it.
Through implementation of the Long Term Athletic Development model, players will learn to play at a younger age and stay with the game at an older age. The model also guides us on better training methods for the competitive levels.
The Rep divisions will have far more players to choose from and the players that don't make it will still receive excellent training.
A High Performance division will not be something that we need to change the OBA constitution for, it will be something that each association's comprehensive programs will create.
There is only one constitutional change that needs to be made at Baseball Ontario. The change that will direct the executive board and its members to prioritize the development of grassroots baseball. To implement LTAD into those programs and to grant access of provincial funding for local associations to run the programs.
These issues have gone beyond baseball. They are about taxpayer dollars NOT getting to their intended communities to build a better society. They are about a good coach NOT choosing to be a better coach because it cost too much for training. It is about a small executive board making decisions that affect over 100,000 children in Ontario.