By Richard Cropp
August 29, 2005
I would like to make a few more comments. First of all, this town is so awesome when it comes to the community being involved in our sports programs. If the entire youth sport coaching community could ever actually sit down at a table and work together, the programs in this town would be unbeatable. Everyone should know that Juneau has a half cent sales tax that pays for all of their programs. I do not know specific numbers, but I have heard the youth football budget alone in Juneau is at or near $100,000.00 a year. Could you imagine fully funded sports programs with no raffles, no spaghetti dinners, no car washes. We could have the best equipment for our kids with very low registration fees. Our coaches and officials could receive at least a small compensation for the work they do. We could send our officials and coaches to clinics and seminars and our kids to good sports camps. Perhaps most importantly we could have real sports facilities. No more baseball and football on gravel fields. No more rotting diving boards and pool decks. Enough field space so we wouldn't have to practice 4 football teams on one field (and even then we do not have a field every night of the week).
I would implore every leader in our town's youth sports community to sit down and work on this issue. The Rec center bond has been retired. Where is that sales tax money now being spent? Does anybody know? Every one of our youth program leaders work so very hard. We all want the best for our kids. I am not talking extravagant items, but all the basic needs filled and some good training for our kids, officials, and coaches.
Does everyone know that our kids have to pay the school $150.00 to play a sport and then $50.00 for every sport after the first. I cannot speak for every sport, but football gets less than 10% of its budget from the school. We get absolutely no money for equipment and not even enough travel money to pay for a single road game. This year our kids will spend almost $400.00 just to play football, and even still we need to raise another $40,000.00 just to provide the absolute minimum basic needs of our program.
As important as the tourism questions are, docks - no docks, float plane noise, ward cove, north end south end, why don't we look at investing in our kids first. Without any help from the city or borough this town has added dozens of tourist attractions in the past few years. The local government needs to stop trying to figure out ways to own things. It is not the governments mandate to own pulp mills or cruise ship docks. How about spending some time trying to develop and invest in our kids. If the Mayor had even bothered to attend the 4th of July parade he would have seen many of our communities youth programs (not just sports), proudly marching through our town. Isn't it time we, as a community, find a way to better support our youth programs. I can assure you, the tourism industry is perfectly capable of looking out for itself. If local government would just get out of the way, good old capitalism will build all the docks, shops, and roads this town will ever need.
Well, these are just my thoughts. It is not a torch I will be in town to carry. Thank you to everyone who wrote in about my previous issue. No matter what side you were on, you cared enough about our sports programs to write in. But most of all I want to thank everyone who has ever bought a raffle ticket, spaghetti dinner, car wash, or a frozen pizza from our town's youth. And a special thank you to every coach, volunteer, official, concession stand parent, and board member from all our youth programs.
Sorry for the rambling, it has been a rambling kind of week.
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