I came to cricket late in life. A full grown adult who hadn’t the slightest of knowledge about the game. But that is so utterly rare in sport that it’s almost unheard of.
Sports are, at their core, games for little kids that certain grown ups are able to play for a living. And that’s why we love the sports that we bonded with as children. I grew up around baseball and soccer, so those were the games that formed the core of my athletic fandom.
In other words, convincing grown up American adults to embrace the sport of cricket – or any sport that they didn’t grow up playing – is incredibly difficult. The Olympics are one exception, but that’s only every four years, and between competitions most people could not care less about figure skating, track & field or, say, water polo.
And with that in mind, the only way to grow the game in this country is start at the youth level. Get kids – all kids – playing the game. USACA doesn’t matter. The ACF doesn’t matter. The national team doesn’t matter. What matters is the kids, playing the game, bonding with it, and creating a lifelong love for it.
And that is exactly what’s happening in small pockets all across America. I look at this picture and I get chills:
You get the kids, and the game gets a solid footing, and from that launching pad anything is possible.
Look at what’s happened with soccer. The game was practically non-existent until the mid-1970s in this country. Then parents saw the game as a safe little sport for their kids to play, and all of a sudden every kid in every city in every state was donning shin guards and learning how to execute a throw-in. Fast-forward 30 years and we are all grown up, are getting our kids into the game, and using our incomes to attend matches, fly to Europe and purchase spendy cable packages.
The above is the blueprint for cricket in America. And it shouldn’t be a hard sell. It’s a safe game at the youth level, and with the current backlash against sports where concussions are common (read: all of them), youth cricket is one that parents can feel safe signing their kids up for. And with the “global village” our world has become, a lot of parents want to expose their kids to things are outside of their cultural bubble – cricket is one of those things.
Get the kids into the game, and in just one generation we might have a team at the T20 World Cup. Wouldn’t that be something? I am going to do what I can to make it happen, and you should too.