Fewer kids on east side play

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Every parent in east Augusta has a chance to sign a child up for city sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer. But some youths in the socioeconomically depressed area still might be getting left out.

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A teen goes up for a shot while playing at May Park in east Augusta. The area has the fewest participants in city sports teams. KENDRICK BRINSON/STAFF  Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Kendrick Brinson/Staff
A teen goes up for a shot while playing at May Park in east Augusta. The area has the fewest participants in city sports teams. KENDRICK BRINSON/STAFF

Participation in the city's youth sports programs in east Augusta - 550 youths this year - is about half that in the affluent west side of town. And the number represents less than a quarter of South Augusta's participation, according to registration information provided by the city's recreation and parks department.

Differences in the districts' size might account for some of the disparity. For example, South Augusta is a much larger area than its counterparts, said Chris Scheuer, the athletic supervisor for the recreation department.

However, geographic differences can't account for why certain sports programs are virtually nonexistent in east Augusta.

Though baseball and basketball trail registration levels in other districts, they still have a moderate following in east Augusta. But there are no participants in girls softball and coed soccer this year.

"The interest just isn't there," Mr. Scheuer said.

The city doesn't collect demographic information on its youth sports registrants, which could determine income levels.

Still, Gregory Utley, a 13-year coach for city recreation basketball and baseball in east Augusta, said obstacles to participation are probably economic.

Parents' time constraints and transportation limitations are among the factors Mr. Utley sees depressing participation in the community.

"Kids, some of them want to play, and their parents work at night and they can't," he said.

There also is a shortage of coaches willing to go the extra mile for players, said Mr. Utley, who often carts his team members to and from games.

East Augusta Middle School Principal Verma Curtis, who has struggled to get parents involved with their children at school, said some of the same factors that limit parent participation scholastically probably come into play in youth sports.

After working to pay the bills and playing both mother and father at home, Ms. Curtis said, single parents don't have time left to run children to practices and games.

Then there is the financial factor.

"When it comes time to register, there's a cost," Ms. Curtis said.

Fees range between $40 and $50, depending on the number of children registered.

Ms. Curtis said that can be burdensome for single parents with more than one child to register.

For those with financial constraints, the city offers a scholarship program for its sports programs, Mr. Scheuer said.

To get more youths involved, the department might have to adapt the sports programs to less formal training sessions with no teams or regular games, he said.

Reach Justin Boron at (706) 823-3215 or justin.boron@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (7) Add comment
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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/20/07 - 05:06 am
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In a society where single

In a society where single parent families are the norm instead of the exception and where being educated is refered to as 'acting white' one winds up with much less free time and disposable income. 'Economically handicapped' is a symptom not a cause. After more then fifty years of teaching ethnic groups that if they vote for a certain party their life style will be handled by the government has left America with a race of under prepared people. Under prepared to face the responsibilities of raising a family and earning an income. The "no time for running children to sporting events and no money for sign up fees" situation is a symptom of a generations long problem. I for one would like to see the problem addressed, not the symptom.

CSRAider
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CSRAider 03/20/07 - 06:41 am
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I some cases I can see the

I some cases I can see the schools getting involved with this issue. You know that some schools (not all) have fields and other facilities for these coaches and kids to use. Schools are usually close to the neighborhood where these kids live.

BakersfieldCityLimits
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BakersfieldCityLimits 03/20/07 - 08:18 am
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If they are not interested in

If they are not interested in playing, then it does not matter how many kids play. I do however think we should try and make this a racial issue by pitting blacks against whites and vice versa. This has proven to be so helpful to Augusta in the past.

coachemery
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coachemery 03/20/07 - 11:14 am
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The fact is that there is

The fact is that there is little resources and/or effort to motivate the youth of today to expect more of themselves. There is little emphasis on the student athlete procedure which can lend to creating an interest in school and extracurricular activities. I challenge Augusta to prioritize the children of the CSRA. You are promoting unmotivated children that are complacent with life as they know it... It is easy to just talk about the situation. I am attempting to change the attitudes and the behaviors of students in the CSRA by providing camps, extracurricular activities and competitions for the youth. Anyone that is interested is welcome to check out the website and can call/email me for additional information on camps or educational programs. 706-373-0273 educational info:803-270-9942 website- eteamz.active.com/gascyoutheducationsportsinc/ Or http://yes-popwarner.atspace.com

ForHim
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ForHim 03/20/07 - 12:58 pm
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If basketball is what the

If basketball is what the kids are interested in on the east side, then that program should be expanded. We should make facilities and equipment available to these children even if they cannot participate financially. The alternative would be them running the streets getting into trouble. I think it is government's responsibility to provide these facilities. Yes, I think everyone should pay for a place for our children to play basketball, baseball, etc. and give them the basic equipment to do it. If we don't deal with children now, we will certainly deal with them later. And not in a positive way. Put it in the budget! It would certainly be better than a race track!

GotCha
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GotCha 03/20/07 - 02:57 pm
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Like it or not if parents

Like it or not if parents want their children to participate badly enough most of them really could come up with the money. If not all, MOST of it. The only thing they'd have to do is not get their nails done a time or two or their hair! Believe me, it's all in prioritizing WHAT"S important. In other words, GETTING BACK INTO THE WORD! Stop all the foolishness, get your house in order, get back to basics, get back to valuing an education, seeing that the children have their homework, make church the best place they're going to go, see that they play ball and respect their coaches, stop acting like a fool around the children and having any old thing laid up with you in front of them. There are people ready, willing, and able to help YOU when you SHOW yourself WORTHY to RECEIVE!!! The inter-city kids do not appreciate what is being done for them right now because they are NOT being taught to APPRECIATE. IT STARTS AT HOME! This city can have a great inter-city championship league in any sport that it chooses but NOT until the children have MORALS that are learned at HOME. JUST THINK BACK TO THE PAST CHAMPIONSHIPS AT LANEY! Ask some of those guys who played.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/20/07 - 07:45 pm
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lA, you miss the point. This

lA, you miss the point. This situation isn't about race. It isn't about pitting anyone. It's about the dirtiest trick played on any group of people in our history. It's about recognising the problems precipitated by this dirty trick and coming up with solutions to heal the damage done. Denying that a trick was played or that there is nothing to repair is why nothing has been done. Let's work for a common goal that will profit everyone. If you want to be sensitive, let's make this about the kids.

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