Tough One. Yes playing with friends is a HUGE part of the IN-HOUSE/REC BALL experience. In many cases it’s the deal breaker.
Continuing the friendships into each summer is a strong attraction. It’s also fun for the parents to get to hang out with the same clique of people that you are comfortable with.
The other view is on a travel team your son will make new friends as a group of young men get together to build a team. Its fun to watch. Also you might meet someone new and interesting as well.
We believe this view is short sighted and we have lost many kids for this reason.
The only thing we know is that a HUGE number of the parents will have come to us and have said “boy I wished we made the move sooner” or “I wish you would have talked me into travel BEFORE he turned 12, 13 years old.”