Over the course of the Easter weekend, something significant happened at the MLB Youth Academy in Los Angeles – and it just might help bring another demographic – and over time, more use – to existing sports facilities.
Major League Baseball and USA Baseball spent the weekend hosting their first-ever girls’ tournament. The event, called the Trailblazer featured girls from across the US and Canada competing on under-16 and under-12 teams.
According to an article in Inside The Games, women’s baseball has been growing steadily in popularity, despite the fact that softball has been the sport into which most girls were traditionally funneled.
In recognition of the significance of the event, star players from past World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s Baseball World Cups were present to serve as coaches. Justine Siegal, the chair of the WBSC Women’s Baseball Commission, worked alongside American Olympic softball champion Jennie Finch.
The event was held in conjunction with Jackie Robinson Day in the Los Angeles area.
Sports participation statistics show a rising number of girls taking up baseball. Many are already playing on high school teams at both the varsity and junior varsity level. Others are playing municipal ball at around the nation and today, one in seven Little Leagues is a girl. (In fact, it was a landmark court case as recently as 1974 that cleared the way for girls to play in Little League Baseball.) At the highest level, USA Baseball fields a Women’s National Team.
While at the moment, the demand may not be strong enough to unlock funding for new baseball facilities to accommodate new players, there is every possibility that over time, the Trailblazer tournament will begin drawing increased competition – and that will lead to more schools, municipalities and others needing more baseball diamonds.