MILWAUKEE — Sports. For many kids and parents, it’s more than a game. It’s about building life skills, such as leadership. But during the summer months, those with less financial resources are less likely to play.
For Kris Franzen and his sons Marcello and Marteo, baseball practice time is sacred.
Through their shared passion for America's Pastime, the brothers are getting better on the diamond every day. Most importantly, they’re learning life skills they’ll take after the game is done.
"These types of teams and these types of experiences really build trust with these kids, and they become friends for life you know,” Franzen said.
“It teaches you about leadership,” Marcello added.
But not every kid who wants to, is able to join a sports league.
According to a reportdone by the Milwaukee Youth Sports Alliance (MYSA), only 34% of kids coming from families making less than $25,000 yearly played a team sport at least one day in 2017.
Meanwhile, 69% of kids from families making more than $100,000 yearly did the same.
Those numbers are roughly the same, just six years prior in 2011.
“So, if a family doesn’t have the financial means to participate, they lose out of the benefits they can get from playing a sport,” said MYSA Executive Director Quentin Prince.
Milwaukee Rec is one of a number of local organizations working to make recreation athletics accessible to all kids looking to play.
“We try not to turn any child away that wants to participate,” said Bobbie Kelsey, Commissioner of Athletics for MKE Rec.
Franzen said he’s hopeful to see more kids from all backgrounds able to pick up a ball and reap the benefits of playing sports.
“They enjoy it, and I think they’re building physical skills and social skills as well,” Franzen said.