For a lot of kids, America’s pastime was a game out of reach. They didn’t have the equipment — bats or gloves or cleats.
“Some kids wouldn’t even play… because they’re too embarrassed or too shy to say, ‘I don’t have this. I don’t have that,’” said Andre Lee, president of the Senators Satchel Paige Little League.
But Lee said something remarkable is happening, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford. Participation rates have doubled — and all it took was some donated gear.
“They’re amazed. They’re like, ‘I can have this? I can have this glove?’” Lee said.
That glove, the shoes, the bats, the bases — all of it came from a Maryland warehouse that houses boxes and boxes of used sporting equipment for baseball, lacrosse, football and even hockey.
Before it came here, most of it was just collecting dust in a closet or garage.
“Your kid’s in college, he’s not playing hockey anymore. What do you do with that?” Max Levitt said.
So the 27-year-old founded a non-profit called Leveling the Playing Field. He takes donations from more affluent families and sports leagues, and gives them to those in need.
“It’s a five-plus-billion-dollar-a-year industry with sports equipment in this country, and ... a lot of it’s going to waste,” Levitt said.
Levitt became aware of the problem when he was at Syracuse University and worked as the football team’s equipment manager.
“We’re getting free equipment, everything from Nike every year. In order to make room for that stuff on the shelf, our job was to literally to take everything left over from the previous year and to throw it into a dumpster,” Levitt said.
That stayed with him. When he noticed a similar inefficiency in the youth sports world, Levitt decided to do something about it.
So far, Leveling the Playing Field has given out nearly $2 million in equipment to more than 300 leagues and schools in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
“You can get baseball bats, you can get bags, you can get catchers’ equipment,” one student described.
These kids say: Look good, play good.
“I really feel so ready to catch, and I feel very determined to win,” another said.
“What we’re trying to do is show the country really that there is a solution to this issue,” Levitt said. “If there are kids not playing sports because of a lack of equipment, that absolutely should not be the case. It’s a hard thing to accomplish but it’s not rocket science. It’s a pretty serious issue that I think we have found a very simple solution to, which is rare in this world.”
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