Perth Heat have illustrated what city-based competitions can mean to a smaller sport. Baseball has languished for 10 years now. I should know, I was a Development Officer for the game and coached, played, wrote and commentated on the game.
It is a phenomenal truth that baseball has been played in this sparsely populated country for about 150 years.
It is remarkable how many young Australians have made sporting and other careers in American high school, college and Professional teams, and then graduated to ‘The Show’ – Major League Baseball (MLB).
It is a carefully designed and defined career path, in the same way that football/soccer has created a path for Australian youth and basketball has snatched the best 190-220 cm tall Australian youth.
In the past, Australians looked with disdain at the American sports.
But as punters graduated through the ranks of the American NFL from Rules and League and Union, and Leagues of Gridiron grew, so the acceptance has come.
If you looked closely in the bat and ball sports in Australia, poaching of very young and teen athletes from baseball to cricket and vice versa is a natural extrapolation of the fierce competition for Australia’s real boys of summer.
If Australia were a country of 40 million, which is a distant but inevitable progression, then the ascendancy of Australian rep teams to close to the world’s best would be ineveitable as well.
It is something we have taken for granted.
Here in the most bountiful country in the world, our sportspeople play 364 days a year in the finest weather and amenities imaginable.
Look at the quality of the pitches and the stadia and the accessibility to sports science and such. Kids today in Australia now adopt the same attitude to sports that American kids do… that it is a right!
That is not to say that that is a negative necessarily, because we have millions of “soccer” mums and dads to keep administrators on their toes, but the legacy of sport in Australia certainly lives on strongly.
I do not have any stats on the participation rates around the country but I note the emphasis on diet, games, exercises and sports again in primary schools and I am thankful that common sense prevailed in that critical area.
I don’t mind if my kids (or yours) run, jump, skip, walk, throw, kick, whatever, as long as they are active and work up a sweat a day for the rest of their life. Oh, and stay away from illicit substances and too many legal alcoholic beverages and watch their diet.
I’ll always recall Ric Charlesworth’s clear headedness over time, only to find that he is a teetotaller and a fit individual in mind and body and it always stayed with me.
If you checked Black Caviar’s DNA doubtless you would find wonderful bloodlines, but we can’t all be unbeatable champions.
What we can be is like what the Perth Heat have become; the pride of Australian baseball, with adaptability, careful planning, excellent development, people who care, self-organised and with a structural base that leads to the top.