Sunday, May 1, 2011
At the Opening of the City Sponsored Youth Baseball League
I stopped by the field on Rock Avenue Saturday for opening day festivities. Ballplayers of various ages were in uniform, gathered around their respective coaches and managers, waiting for the parade to begin. Joy was in the air. City politics could do nothing do to spoil the good time, I hoped.
I was thinking about the years my son Matt and I spent in the Plainfield Youth Soccer Club. Its about the game but also much more. It is about teaching kids about sportsmanship, team work and skill building. Its enjoying the weather and communing with neighbors: community building.
A question has been raised in the rancorous debate between City Council, Mayor, citizens and recreation division employees. The question is: "where have you been? We haven't seen you around" It is meant to imply that only some people care about the children. There is a political agenda behind it.
At opening day, I was approached by an adult who was prominent in the city baseball league who put this in what I hoped was a more positive way: "it's good to see you here today". I still wasn't sure how to take that. What was he implying, that I haven't showed up until today? So I recounted my 10 years as youth soccer coach. The teams I coached were representative of the diversity of Plainfield and I was glad the players got to interact and know each other as people. But I wasn't sure if I was being put on the defensive so I defended myself.
It will be difficult to get past the negativity caused by the rumor, spread through the public schools, that the City Council was shutting down the recreations summer programs. But we can and we must. The focus must be on taking steps to increase participation in the Plainfield Recreation Division programs. That is what the City Council set out to do when the recreation debate began. It veered off course because some peoples job security felt threatened. But since all parties do care about the children, it behooves us to improve and expand recreation opportunities for Plainfields children