written by Ariel Franklin, Ya’Kiva McCraw, Christina Morris and Steven Morris
Relationships in Sociology and Youth Baseball in Omaha
The following information was obtained to show the sociological relationships in youth baseball in the city of Omaha. The age of observation of youth baseball players was ages 3 to 18. After reviewing the history of youth baseball in Omaha, an observation of a collection of data will further explain the sociological relationships found in this beloved youth activity played in Omaha.
The History of Omaha and Youth Baseball:
Every year Triple Crown Sports hosts the Slumpbuster tournament in Omaha, also known as the Battle of Omaha for boys aged 9-18. This tournament, which is the world’s largest youth baseball tournament, consists of 600 youth teams from 40 different states who come together to battle their baseball skills against each other for almost two weeks in June. The teams play games all day and take evenings off by 4 pm to enjoy professional games and other activities with their families. This event is sanction by the USSSA.
PaceSetters Baseball is the Midwest’s most respectable baseball organization for boys ages 8 to 14. The organization was started by Harley Schrager and now consists of seven baseball teams with 75 positions in which the players get an opportunity to play several different positions instead of one. The teams are headed by coaches opposed to parents and have seen former players play for colleges such as Yale and Creighton.
Another known Omaha youth baseball program is the Omaha Cardinals Youth Athletic Association for boys ages 9-14. This allows boys to play competitive baseball at its highest level, playing anywhere from 50-90 games in November till April.
Ultimate Baseball Academy is the largest training facility in the Midwest at 55,000 square feet which offers lessons, camps, clinics, leagues and products for resale both for youth and adults. Ultimate Baseball Academy has some of the finest couches and instructors the area has to offer with 24 training tunnels, 5 pitching mounds and a large turf field.
The Omaha Strike Zone is another known facility out of Omaha that specializes in focusing on each position separately from baseman and outfielders to catchers, pitchers and hitters. This facility includes 5 cages, training tunnels, a weight-room and a turf field. Including their outstanding facility, the Strike Zone is also known for having signed memorabilia for sale to any fan that stops by.
A lesser known facility in Omaha, but still huge in size and numbers is Athletic Training Center which focuses on helping any athlete to become better conditioned.
During the College World Series, trainers and scouters throughout the country, particularly Baseball Factory, a premium scouting partner for Baseball America, come to find new skill and help host activities for the youth baseball fans.
Outlines Safety Guidelines to Follow:
Effective July 1, 2012, sports organizations, including youth leagues such as the Omaha Sports Athletic Association (OSAA), are required to comply with the Concussion Awareness Act passed by the Nebraska legislature.
The bill affects athletes 19 years old or younger, sports organization, including youth leagues, club sports, or any organization sponsoring a sporting activity where there is a cost to participants or where such costs are sponsored must follow the law. Anytime a player, in practice or in a game, is suspected of having a concussion or is showing the symptoms of a concussion, the player must immediately be removed from that practice or the game. The athlete may not return to practice or play in a game until written clearance is provided from both a physician and the parent(s).
Financial Impact on the City of Omaha as a Whole:
Between 2014-2019 the city of Omaha plans to spend $363,000 on youth baseball/softball facilities with tax payer’s money.This expresses the magnitude of importance youth baseball plays in our city.
Outlines Social Behavior Norms:
The Omaha Suburban Athletic Association has adopted a “Zero” Tolerance policy. All coaches, players, parents and fans must abide by the new policy or will be asked to leave the program. OSAA will no longer tolerate any unsportsmanlike behavior from coaches, players, parents or fans toward other coaches, players, parents, fans, league officials, or umpires.
The teams have their own cheers and usually exercise them before each game. All players wear the same color and fans, coaches or anyone else associated with the team usually wears the same team colors. After each game, the players are asked to shake hands and express “Good Game” to the opposing team.
This norm directly relates to the symbolic interaction perspective, also called symbolic interactionism, which is a major framework of sociological theory. This perspective relies on the symbolic meaning that people develop and rely upon in the process of social interaction. According to sociology.about.com, symbolic interaction theory analyzes society by addressing the subjective meanings that people impose on objects, events, and behaviors. Subjective meanings are given primacy because it is believed that people behave based on what they believe and not just on what is objectively true. Thus, society is thought to be socially constructed through human interpretation. People interpret one another’s behavior and it is these interpretations that form the social bond. These interpretations are called the “definition of the situation.” For example, why would young people smoke cigarettes even when all objective medical evidence points to the dangers of doing so? The answer is in the definition of the situation that people create.
Correlation Between Neighborhoods and Association Fees:
According to NBC News the rate of sports participation has a direct relationship to income. About 25 percent of the population has household income under $25,000, but only 15 percent of sports participants are in that group. About 20 percent of households have incomes over $100,000, however only 33 percent of households participating in sports have incomes at that level. In the C.S. Mott study, only 5 percent of families with incomes over $60,000 said the costs associated with school sports caused a drop in their child’s participation. But in families with incomes under $60,000, 19 percent said costs led their kids to participate less.
A visual of this observation can be seen in the link “Chart” at the top of this reading. It separates different locations of Omaha and breaks down registration fees based on these locations and ages. You will notice those locations located in southwest Omaha have higher registration fees then those located in for say northeast Omaha. These registration fees correlate to the average income of the different locations in Omaha. If average income was higher for that region, registration fees were also higher.
As a result, lower income players are being shut out of the youth baseball activities. Youth baseball in Omaha can be expensive which is why more teams are formed in wealthier parts of town. This directly relates and explains the segregation of players seen in Omaha which will be expanded on next.
Each team is divided based on the neighborhoods the players live in. Each divisional team then competes against one another to determine the title of best team in town. By nature, since these players are segregated by neighborhood, they are in addition segregated by income levels as well.
Racial segregation, even though outlawed, still exists today due to social norms. Historically, predominantly racial neighborhoods have lower household incomes then predominantly white neighborhoods. Having no biological bases at all, both race and gender are social constructs that function based on what we believe to be true about people, given what they look like. We use socially constructed meanings of race and gender to help us decide who to interact with, how to do so, and to help us determine, sometimes inaccurately, the meaning of a person’s words or actions.
Social Levels and Stratification:
From observations, it was found inside each team, there are social levels. Typically there are one or two team captains. These players are “ranked” higher than others, typically because they have additional responsibilities for the team. In some instances, after the captains were selected, the levels of responsibilities decrease by skill level.
Just like there are class levels in the individual teams, there are class levels among the teams such as select and recreation. In select, you must try out and can be cut from the team. In recreational, any player who lives in the area can play for the team, no matter the skill level. This is very similar to class levels in society as a whole. Broken down even more, Omaha recognizes classes among select teams. These classes are retrospectively from highest to lowest: Major, AAA Gold, AAA Silver, AA Gold, AA Silver, A.
To relate to social ideas, society has stratification levels as well. These are typically determined by money and power. Inside each social level, the stratification is broken down to its own levels even more. These strata or levels are still separated based on social classes related to money and power.
From personal experiences, it was observed relationships among the players are stronger compared to other relationships with peers at school. In playing sports, these players spend a substantial amount of time with each other as well as learn communication and team building skills among one another. In addition to this bond, relationships are built around the parents of the players.
Just like in youth baseball, we typically build stronger connections with those individuals that have the same likes and dis-likes as ourselves. It is historically found two or more individuals who work together on a daily basis will have a stronger connection then with those who meet monthly or quarterly.
Observation of Field Locations:
Most field tournaments played are located in the western part of Omaha. This could be because the majority of individuals who play youth baseball mostly come from neighborhoods in the western part of town, or those with more income. This could also be because these locations pay higher registration fees then those located far north or east, therefore they may have more power dictating where tournaments are played. Please view the link “Field Locations” for a map which visual displays OSAA tournament field locations.
Omaha League Divisions by Neighborhood:
This same link mentioned “Field Locations” will give readers a visual of where each division location in Omaha is separated by in relation to smaller neighborhood subdivisions. As mentioned earlier, there is a correlation of location, registration fees, income and games played at each location. The link “Chart” will further explain this relationship.
In conclusion, there are notable contributions youth baseball has to Omaha both historically and socially. Research concluded that these teams are segregated by neighborhoods, which directly correlates with income levels and registration fees. Inside youth baseball, there are social norms which also can be seen in social norms inside of neighborhoods, such as Omaha. As seen, there are several sociological relationships amount youth baseball in Omaha. Overall however, Omaha is a great place to have a youth participate in baseball.
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