What’s best for the kids?

Posted September 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

SEPT. 25 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR

In his column last week, Mark Spensley referred to a Dan Dailey quote that ought to be etched in stone.

Dailey, the longtime Monticello booster, volunteer, and supporter of youth sports in town, gave me this version during an interview many years ago:

“When you’re making a decision, base it on what’s good for the kids, and you’ll never be wrong.”

I wholeheartedly agree. And that should definitely apply when the forum is held tonight regarding the future of youth baseball and softball in Monticello.

The problem is, both sides can make legitimate claims that their side is in the kids’ best interest.

Those who want to take fourth-graders out of the Little League and the grade 4-6 softball program believe that’s best for kids, because fourth-graders will no longer have to compete with sixth-graders. Another benefit, in the view of that side, is that the grade 5-6 kids would get an early start on the experience of playing teams from other towns.

Those who want the status quo also believe their view is best for the kids, because families who might not have the funds, the time or the inclination to travel to games in other towns would be assured of a program that is entirely in town.

So what to do? It’s a tough call.

My problem is that I find myself agreeing, in part, with both sides. I do wonder if it’s unfair to fourth-graders to face live pitching from kids who are two years older. But I also wonder if a schedule that includes other towns will cause us to lose kids, including some of those kids who might need the program most.

To my mind, the ideal situation would be to adopt the new format, with grades 5-6 together and grades 3-4 together; but also to find enough kids to play only in Monticello. Both camps seem to think this is impossible, undesirable, or both.

So then what? If we don’t have enough teams at the 5-6 level, maybe a compromise is to connect with one, single town that also has just three or four teams at that level.

The third alternative is to pick one view or the other. Either keep the status quo, or restructure the leagues with travel. If it absolutely has to come down to one or the other, I believe its better to have fourth-graders play with sixth-graders than to start traveling and end up leaving kids out.

So those are my points. Whatever happens tonight, I hope the debate is about ideas and not personalities, and most of all – as Dailey so wisely offered – what’s best for the kids.

Bla