This is a follow-up to last week's post on youth sports.
Silver Spring is a wonderful town by virtue of the dynamic population. I believe it is rare to find a town as diverse. But with the good come the bad.
There are about 300 boys who play football for the Silver Spring Saints. A good portion of them come from single parent households, many others have two working parents. Ironically, since my last post, my team has lost two players who are unable to find transportation to the practices and games. One of those boys played in our program last year, and had been concerned about avoiding gangs in his school. With a single working mother and no extra curricular activity this fall, it raises my concern for him.
I have also been humbled by the immense sacrifices some parents and players make to participate in these programs. Two years ago, a player for my team took two buses to get from school to football practice, and another two to get from football practice back home to Rockville. All in all, every night he had practice was an additional four hours of transportation and walking along unsafe roads. An hour and a half each way between Silver Spring and Rockville on the bus. His single mother had no car, and they relied on coaches to get to and from games. At the time, there was no program in Rockville for which he was eligible to play, and he chose Silver Spring over one other program where he could take the bus to practice from his school.
Many families scrape to come up with the fees to play in a well-organized league. These fees generally run around a couple hundred dollars, and fundraisers and donations are often used to help out families that might not otherwise be able to afford them. When transportation has a negative impact on a child's ability to engage in constructive activities, these children will become isolated and be far more likely to become absorbed into unfavorable activities. No matter how much money is raised, fundraisers and donations will never safely help a young man get to and from our football field. Because of this, how many children will be unable to play youth sports in our region? I know about a handful that had to quit. I'm quite sure there are many more who were never even able to consider it.