All good points. My daughter was asked to join a travel ball team at 10 but refused because she didn't want to give up all those "other things". The same offer came when she was 11, and again she turned it down. Finally when she was 12, she realized that our local rec league would not provide her what she was looking for and she decided she wanted to try travel ball. DW and I supported her decision at each point.the rules of what rec and travel ball are are not written in stone and some immutable truth though. There exists kids, and I'd argue many, that want a little more serious softball experience but don't want or can't manage what's required for the more serious competitive travel ball stuff. (Here, travel is really just rec it just means we keep playing into the summer)
Do kids not have the same desire for the sport, or do they simply desire other things more (or do their parents) and don't want to potentially give up other things in their life, at 11? Summer vacations, other sports or activities, etc. It seems to me sports goes from like 10%-110% real fast and too early.
there's no good/easy answer for this of course, but taking rec a little more seriously and trying to get as many kids to commit to at least a practice/game schedule and show up is a big first step.
I don't know what the answer is either. It would be great if our children had more opportunities, but sometimes all you can do is deal with the choices that are available.