Gaffney, SC
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LETTERSFree Access

Maybe we should get anther job

There has been outrage on the entrance fee to watch children play rec baseball, and rightfully so. As with any issue, there will be people on both sides but it is sad to see greed of adults enter the equation for rec sports where it truly should be all about the kids.

While attending a recent game at the complex (the first one where I had to pay), I asked the 4 people collecting money, at least 2 who were recreation dept officials, why this was happening now. The answer from one of the Rec Dept leaders was “we are thinking 10 years down the road.” This part didn’t surprise me as I know it takes money to make improvements. The part that did surprise me was the complete non empathetic reasoning I received as I continued to push. I described how Cherokee County (31st in median household income in SC) is not like other surrounding counties where families may have more disposable income and in the middle of the highest inflation in decades, it is a terrible look that could mean the difference in some kids being able to play or the parents being able to watch them play. The response I got from this Rec Dept senior official was “honestly if they are struggling that bad, they just need to go find another job.” I was stunned and couldn’t believe that was the view being held by him and possibly others there as well.

Hey single parent who is doing all they can to provide for their children and give them some joy through sports, go get a second job so you can pay the gate fee on top of the registration fee, the equipment, and everything else. Hey family that lives paycheck to paycheck and still puts on a smile and strong face for your kids, y’all just have to go find another job! While I think this is absurd and outlandish, it is the view of the people at the Rec Dept. It’s just another job and time spent away from your kid’s games (Rec Dept – good luck getting a fee from parents who aren’t there). And oh you would rather just sit in the outfield and watch from there to save a couple dollars (actually $72 over the course of a season for two parents with one child playing just for gate fees)? Too bad, the same Rec Dept will threaten to call the police on you and have you thrown out for trespassing as happened to one parent the night I was there. Remember, all you have to do is just go get another job and you won’t have to worry about this, according to the Rec Dept.

The Rec Dept will say they have cheaper registration fees than other local leagues and while true just from an upfront dollars standpoint, this ‘cheap’ fee of $60 gets your child far less than other places who charge a $100 fee. In surrounding counties, $100 gets the children a jersey, hat, pants, and socks as opposed to the jersey and hat the Rec Dept provides. They also do not charge an entry fee so the $100 is the max you will pay as opposed to the $132 for one child ($60 registration fee plus $72 for two parents at each game) or $204+ for two or more children ($60 fee plus $144 for two parents who have two kids playing on different nights) that you pay here for a season.The hats provided by the Rec Dept are also some of the cheapest hats you can find and there are multiple errors on the uniforms i.e. one team is supposed to be the Royals but the jersey says “Royal” and one of the sponsors is Best Pizza in Town but the jersey says “Best Pizza Inn Town.” Surely if nothing else, the kids can have a jersey that has the correct name on it and the sponsors who pay to have their name on the jerseys can have their business name correct.

My views, and those of many I have talked to, are that the Rec Dept should be trying to grow the game and do whatever they can to encourage kids to play and encourage parents to sign their children up. Our views are that they should be doing whatever they can to keep kids engaged with the recreation league as opposed to pushing kids away and making parents feel like the only option is to either not play or go to another league like travel ball. I grew up in this league, played as long as I could in Gaffney little league, played for the high school (shoutout to my 09 state champ brothers), and continued playing at Limestone College. Baseball and all youth sports are important to me and should be important to our next generation of kids. The kids are also the ones who should be at the forefront of every conversation. Maybe, just maybe adding barriers to them playing isn’t the best way to go.

Or maybe we are all wrong. Maybe we should just “go get another job” as the Rec Dept thinks we should and quit our complaining.

Cameron Culp

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