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How Kids' Sports Became a $15 Billion Industry

from TIME

This article refers to related research co-authored by ACSM members Eric Post, Stephanie Trigstead and David Bell.

Joey Erace knocks pitch after pitch into the netting of his $15,000 backyard batting cage, the pings from his metal bat filling the air in the south New Jersey cul-de-sac. His private hitting coach, who's charging $100 for this hour-long session, tells Joey to shorten his stride. He's accustomed to such focused instruction: the evening batting practice followed a one-on-one fielding lesson in Philadelphia earlier in the day, which cost another $100.

Relentless training is essential for a top player who suits up for nationally ranked teams based in Texas and California, thousands of miles from home. But Joey has talents that scouts covet, including lightning quickness with a rare knack for making slight adjustments at the plate--lowering a shoulder angle, turning a hip--to drive the ball. "He has a real swagger," says Joey's hitting coach, Dan Hennigan, a former minor leaguer. "As long as he keeps putting in this work, he's going to be a really, really solid baseball player at a really, really high level."

Already, Joey has a neon-ready nickname--Joey Baseball--and more than 24,000 followers on Instagram. Jewelry and apparel companies have asked him to hawk their stuff. On a rare family vacation in Florida, a boy approached Joey in a restaurant and asked for his autograph. But Joey Baseball has yet to learn cursive. He is, after all, only 10 years old. They snapped a picture instead. more


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