It has become the modernAmerican family pastime.
traveling the countryto compete in Youth Sports.
So many families are doing itthese days, that a brand-new industryis emerging across the country, an industry designed to caterto their obsession, and lighten their wallets.
JON FRANKEL: It’s five a.
on a summer morning.
ANGIE COE: It’s time to get up, brush your teeth.
JON: But at this home in Northern Virginia, it’s time to wake up and get going.
We gotta boogie, babe.
Let’s go! JON: Angie Coe and her family are packing to leave town.
Helmet, gloves, cleats.
-How many bats you taking?-ELI: Two.
Everything in the bagand we’re out by a certain time.
And we’re not gonna be late.
I’m not having it.
How many weekends a year are you going through that sortof ritual? -Um.
-(SIGHS) -Thirty?-I’d say about 30.
-It doesn’t stop.
All right, socks.
JON: Because the Coes are trying to raise young athletes, and in todays’ America, that means, there’s no time to waste.
The Coes are one of millions of American families who spend much of theirfree time traveling the country so their children can playagainst others form far away.
The families trade their time and their money, in exchange for elite coaching, plenty of games, and better competitionthan the local little league.
This is the world of travel sports.
Join it, or be left behind.
It’s so competitiveand if you don’t keep up with what everyone elseis doing.
um, your kid’s gonnafall behind.
How big a part of your lifehas this turned out to be? -Fifty percent—I– -Yes.
-I would– -I was gonna say a lil more.
I guess maybe more.
You spend half your timethinking about travel sports, packing your kids upfor travel sports, preparing for travel sports.
Yes, you don’t knowuntil you’re in it.
Right? And now we’re knee deep, in it.
And you say, “Holy cow.
” It drives their relationships, it drives their schedules, it becomes the driverto the lifestyle of that family for the year.
JON: Dev Pathik is a leading consultant in the Youth Sports business.
Advising private developers and cities, trying to cash in on what the travel industry now refers to as, “Sports Tourism.
” Last year, sports tourism grewby 20 percent over the year of prior.
It’s a nine-billion-dollarindustry.
You’re telling methat sports for kids is a nine-billion-dollarbusiness? It’s an incredibletransformation with massive ripple effectson the rest of our society.
People aren’t traveling becausethey wanna take a nice vacation on the beach, or go play golf for a weekend, they’re travelingbecause their kids are involved in travel sports? That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right so we call it a “tourn-acation, “right? It’s a tournament vacation, it’s replaced the time off the families may have hadfor other activity.
JON: The week we met them, the Coes were headed to one of America’s most popular family vacation spots.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
But there would be little time for sun and sand.
Instead, they were at the ball park.
where the Coes’ 13-year-old son, Eli, and his team, The Virginia Stars played in a tournament called, “The Youth Baseball Nationals.
” Nine games in six days with only one day off.
Let’s go one-four!Come on! (CROWD CHEERING AND CLAPPING) It’s a good thingyou don’t care too much.
(LAUGHS) JON: You keep your feelingto yourself, I like that.
Why are you here? Why are you in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
in the middle of August? (SCREAMS) Let’s go! Nice job! -That’s why you’re here?-That’s why I’m here.
(LAUGHS) Have you ever once saidto yourself, “I don’t wanna travelthis weekend, I don’t wanna load up the car, and I don’t wanna stayin 85-degree heat.
” No, because he loves it, and I love it.
I– This is awesome.
JON: That demand is why Myrtle Beach is no longer just promotingit’s beaches and golf courses.
They’re also now selling Youth Sports.
The city now hasnine baseball fields of its own.
And nine more at nearby complex developed by formerMajor-Leaguer, Cal Ripken.
and for basketball and volleyball, Myrtle Beach opened this one hundred thousandsquare-foot sports center.
VOICEOVER: Welcome to Lakepoint sporting community.
JON: It’s one of countlesscities across the country that have poured money into an arms race, building Youths Sports facilities to attract Youths Sports families, and meetan almost endless demand.
And where there was just a small world town, this popped up.
almost in the middle of nowhere.
JON: As far as my eye can see, I see soccer fields.
As far as you can see that way, you see soccer fields.
What was here before? Corn and soy beans.
JON: Andy Cook is the mayorof tiny Westfield Indiana, it was his idea to build what he aptly calls, “Grand Park.
” It opened last year.
Midwestern farmland transformed into one of the largest Youth Sports facilities in the world.
And since you can only trulyappreciate its size from above, we asked the mayor for an aerial tour.
-How big is it?-This is, uh.
four hundred acres, mile and a half long and one-half mile wide.
JON: I see a lotof fields down there.
Give me the count.
We have 31outdoor soccer fields, plus some space allocated for recreational soccer, three full size indoor soccer fields, and we have 26 diamonds.
JON: If it sounds absurd, that’s what people politely toldMayor Cook when he built it.
In a word, what did people say to you? “You’re nuts.
” JON:But the mayor and his town may have the last laugh.
All the way to the bank.
Those 60 brand-newprofessional grade fields are constantly filledwith kids and their families.
Last year, we had just about1.
2 million visits to Grand Park and our visitors spent145 million dollars in this area.
A hundred and 45million dollars? -Yes, sir.
-You’ve heard this before.
If you build it.
I got sick of that, thank you.
Don’t say it.
But if you build it, what happens? -They come.
-And keep coming.
And they keep coming.
JON: During one week in July, Grand Park hosted an astonishing four hundred teams, from all over the country.
Kids as young as eight, and as old as 17.
Seven thousand athletes in all, here in the middle of the corn fields.
Athletes like the Texans, a girls’ soccer teamwho drove 16 hours from Austin.
Chauffeured, of course, by their moms and dads.
How often are you making tripslike this? -Too often.
-Too often? JON: You don’t tell your kidsthat? -No.
We support one hundred percent.
But behind their backs, it’s “too often”? Again? Yes.
Behind their back it’s– How often is it? How many weekendsout of the year? Well, in the fall, we traveled pretty much almost every single weekend.
We’ve actually played in.
about ten different statesin the last two years.
JON: And everywheresports families go, they spend.
On hotels, on food, and on registration fees for each tournament.
What do you spend? (ALL LAUGH) -I don’t know—Oh, don’t even wanna go there? I don’t know that any of ushave ever totaled that, because it would be shocking.
Is anybody watchingwhat flies out of their wallet and their purses when it comesto spending on kids and sports? -Oh—We watch.
-I think we watch.
-You watch? You watch it go.
MAN: We wave.
We watch it go from the pocketto the whatever, you know.
-But is it worth it in the long run?Absolutely! -Oh, yeah.
The organization that we’re in, we have a credit cardon the file.
We’re getting an email to say, “Hey, we’re readyto charge your credit card.
” So, that’s the way it is, you have a credit card on file.
-Um—So you don’t even recognize– You don’t–I don’t even pay attention because we’re not takingour kid out of it.
That’s just the way it is.
JON:The Coes figure they spend at least 15, 000 dollars every year on sports for their twins, Eli and Jasmine.
But like lots of parents, they thinkit will eventually pay off.
Ten years, at 15, 000 dollars a pop.
-that’s 150, 000 dollars.
Is that a wise investment? You think you’re gonna see150, 000 dollars in return -on college scholarships?-Yes.
JON: Money is just part of the sacrifice, most weekends they’re on the road, the Coe family has to split up.
Angie takes Eli for travel baseball.
And Bryan takes Jasmine to her club track meets.
(CHEERING) JON: They make the commitment so their kids have a chanceto be as good as they can be.
It’s fact that Youth Sportsorganizers know.
VOICEOVER:The Baseball Nationals.
you have to come here.
JON:Eli’s event in Myrtle Beach is essentially marketedas a national championship.
but organizers hold the same tournament a dozen times a year, in locations all over the country.
The only difference is the colorof the logo and the city.
It’s as if somebodyhas created this world that every parent in the U.
has got to geton the treadmill.
-and run along it.
-Yeah, I’m just sorry I wasn’t the onethat came up with it.
-JON: Because it’s big business.
-No kidding– It is a huge business.
JON: Huge enough that now, some down-and-out cities where the jobsand businesses have long gone, are turning to, yes, Youth Sports tourism as a cure.
Dev Pathik, the Youth Sports consultant, was recently hiredto help bring Rocky Mount, North Carolina back from the dead.
How big is this facilitygonna be? It’s 165, 000 square feet.
Eight full basketball courts that translateto 16 volleyball courts, so this facility is intendedto breed life in the downtown.
This isn’t just, “Hey let’s havea few sports events, ” this is, “Let’s revitalizedowntown Rocky Mount”? And create a destinationwhere there wasn’t one.
JON: The sports center is being built just blocksfrom the center of downtown, and the cities development director, John Jesso, says a transformation already underway.
Six of the eight buildingson this block have been purchasedby one individual, along with two buildingson the other side, and then another building onthe other side -of these buildings.
-And what are the plans then, -for this block?-Um, we already have a restaurateurthat went in here.
This is gonna beanother restaurant, in front of this old drug storewith residential units upstairs -and retail, downstairs.
-You can all say thanks to this booming businessof Youths Sports Travel.
JON: Rocky Mounts facilityis said to open in about a year.
And there are dozens more Youths Sports Projects around the country, coming soon to a city near you.
It’s enough to make you think that more kidsare playing sports than ever.
But this building boomwill not benefit everyone.
That’s because as more and bigger facilities are being built, millions of kids are being priced out of the fun.
Sports participation ratesin almost every major sport over the last ten years, have declined.
So, if you’re a suburbanitewhose kid is playing sport, you probably believe thatmore kids are playing sport, but it’s not true.
Are children being left behind? No question, childrenare being left behind in sport, and they’re being left behind because travel sportsis dominating the landscape.
Let’s go, guys! JON: Back in Myrtle Beach, the Coes are at the parkfor day six of the tournament.
And they’ve made itto the championship game.
-(CROWD CHEERING)-ANGIE: Come on! Let’s go! JON: It’s the last inning and the game is tied.
MAN:Eli, you’re the winning run! Go, go, go, go! JON: Eli Coe scoredthe tournament winning run, and his Virginia Stars are champions.
for today that is.
Because in a few weeks, the Coes will pack their bags again, and head out on the roadfor their next tournament.
Thank you for watching.
Remember, you can catchthe rest of the latest edition of Real Sports, all month long, on HBO.