Saturday, March 15, 2008

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

About 42 years ago, my mother took me up to the old Okolona Fire House on Blue Lick Road, now home to the Wilderness Road Senior Citizen Center, and signed me up to play in the Minor-Minor League of the Okolona Little League Baseball organization. Okolona at the time played of fields which had been built on the farm of the late Shirley Neblett, located on the southwest corner of Blue Lick Road and Preston Highway. Mr. Neblett had also offered the land for the Okolona Fire House. The Minor-Minor field was located behind where the McDonald's now sits. Other fields were for the Minor, Junior, Big, and Senior leagues. Some of the fields were later moved for the building of the Tradewinds South Shopping Center which housed a Kroger and a drug store, among other things. Eventually the McDonald's sprung up out in the parking lot of that shopping center. While the McDonald's remains, the rest of the Tradewinds Center has been torn down. The Okolona Little League relocated to land on the west side of Southern High School, where some of the teams had played off-and-on for years. A Home Depot occupies most of the site of the old Okolona fields.

That year, 1966, I played on the "Colts" for Coach Doan and Coach McFee. We sometimes practiced at Smyrna Elementary on the Outer Loop, the Bethany United Church of Christ on Old Preston Highway, and Blue Lick Park on Mud Lane. Like little leaguers all over Jefferson County, we really didn't think much about the use of the parks and the fields, nor did it occur to us that there were costs involved in using those parks and fields. But, as adults, we do know there are. So the question arises as to what is expected from our government in the way of parkland and uses, expectations as to how those things are funded, and if there should be user fees involved for park usage.

When I was in college at Bellarmine College - now University (one of the five Centers of Higher Education I attended before one of them, Spalding University, decided to grant me a degree) I had as a Business Professor Dr. Bernard Theimann, an exceptional professor who was also a strict fiscal conservative, this in the early days of the Downfall of the American Republic initiated by President Ronald W. Reagan. Dr. Theimann was admittedly one of my very favorite professors in college although we disagreed on most economic policy and a lot of other things. He had a belief that everyone who uses any public facilities should pay a user fee to do so, especially parents with children. His typical rail was against those parents who used the parks as baby sitting facilities. He felt that above and beyond whatever those parents paid in property taxes, there should be additional money paid into the system when any government system was used. I thought he was nuts and told him so. I argued that property taxes are the payment he sought and those taxes were paid by both property owners on their mortgages and by those leasing through their monthly rent payments to landlords. As the son of a landlord of several properties, I assured him costs were always passed on. So, Dr. Theimann and I regularly agreed to disagree. To his credit, he never did use my disagreements with him to decide what my grades would be in his classes. I truly deserved the two Cs and two Bs I got from him, as well as the 2 As.

All this comes to mind today based on an email I read yesterday, the issue of which made its way into the Courier-Journal today. The Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, in an effort to save costs, has decided to pass on to Little League players the costs associated with lighting ball fields and concession stands at area public parks used by Little League teams. I think that is preposterous and unworthy of a government. It is, in a word, unsportsmanlike.

Am I wrong? Should Little League players be expected, through the sign-up fees paid by their parents, grandparents, and guardian, to foot the bill for using the parks? If so, to what end does such a thought lead? Are all of us who use any government owned facility to pay user fees, as Dr. Theimann suggested in class twenty-five years ago(?), a suggestion I thought then was asinine and still do. I find the suggestion that Little Leagues (and others) pay these bills to be pathetic.

This idea is related to the argument I've heard all my life about folks who have no children in the public schools wanting to opt out of paying school taxes. For the record, I am one of those who have had no children in the public schools, although I myself am a product of them and my nieces and nephews all attend (or attended as two of them have graduated) public schools. Are we such a country that every penny we spend can only be on ourselves? Reagan and his ilk taught us that greed beginning in the late 1970s and through the 1980s and it is one of the most unfortunate things which has happened to American society. We are no longer societal, we are all individual.

When the American Republic falls, which it will, here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, one of the indicators will have been the day the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro decided to charge Little Leaguers to pay for electricity to use the parks - truly unsportsmanlike conduct.


According to the C-J, the following entities are known to be affected by this proposed policy:

Fairdale Youth Baseball, Nelson Hornbeck Park
Fern Creek Babe Ruth, Fern Creek Park
Optimist Club of Hikes Point, Des Pres Park
Jeffersontown Youth Soccer Association, Floyds Fork Park
Lyndon Recreation Association, A.B. Sawyer Park
Middletown Recreation Association, Crosby Park
Okolona Little League, McNeely Lake Park
Portland Youth Baseball League, Lannan Park
Rockford Lane Youth Baseball, Riverside Gardens Park
Southwest Baseball, Sun Valley Park
Southwest Youth Soccer League, Sun Valley Park
West Louisville Sports, Shawnee Park
Other organizations affected:
Berrytown/Griffytown Improvement Organization, Berrytown Park
Healthy Strides, Cherokee Park
Louisville Rugby Football, Hays Kennedy Park
Louisville Radio Control Club, McNeely Lake Park
Louisville Area Soaring Society, Charlie Vettiner Park
Trinity High School baseball, Thurman Hutchins Park

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you on Little Leagues having to pay electric bills. For one, some of these Little Leagues would not even be a little league if it was not for the parents that put forth the extra effort to make sure that they are being ran. They keep up with the parks, make sure that they are ready for the games, make sure that they are cleaned after the games, etc... We pay taxes for Metro Parks Dept. to take care of our parks. Half the time the grass is not cut and someone uses a personal mower and gas (as expensive as it is) to cut the grass. Do these parents that put forth that extra effort get paid for their time? Are they paid by Metro Parks? Do they get a tax break? Well, No. Do you think that I would want my child playing ball at a park that has grass up to their knees, graffiti on side walks and buildings, and trash everywhere. No. However, Our Mayor is not going to make sure that all that gets done. But leave it to the kids to pay for their lights. Some of the parents that sign their children into these leagues have little money and can barely afford to pay for their children to play anyways but then add to that because you have to pay for your electric. What is going on here? I am sure that they can find another way to cover the cost of electric other than penalizing the children. I believe that keeping some of the kids busy is keeping them out of trouble. It is a good impact on children to be involved in sports. Sports teaches good sportsmanship. Why doesn't the mayor? And who chooses which parks will be effected? With little leagues lasting only a two-three month period maybe twice a year (baseball and football and some have soccer)How much could the electric cost? When we can spend tax payers money on such events like Thunder Over Louisville (this is not a complaint that we have Thunder - I do truly like the fact that we do ) but can't spend it to keep our kids busy.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.