NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

May 16, 2014

As always, parents step up to the plate

Bill Plante's North Shore
Newburyport Daily News

---- — I stopped for the red light at the corner of Newman Road and High Road during an ongoing baseball game of what appeared to be the smallest of Little Leaguers on Newbury’s Upper Green early this week, and I smiled.

“What Pop would have made of this,” I said to myself as I watched a team of uniformed very youngsters take the field.

Baseball and football dominated sports, and uniforms for those when what is now so very long ago were only for high schoolers.

For the rest of us all that was required for baseball were gloves, balls, one bat that we all used, and a single mask for catchers.

Changes came in Newburyport after our Second World War when the Kiwanis Club members succeeded in creating a league here as others were doing from coast to coast.

That was the birth in Newburyport of what is so active at the Pioneer Baseball League and Softball League on upper Merrimac Street.

The spread and importance of structured sports for the young of today has created a nationwide major market and costs to participate can be a burden for parents of girls as well as boys.

In that very long ago high school girls had a limited choice to either make it as a cheer leader, or take to the stands and cheer along with those who had made it.

They have come a very long way from that among a very long list of sports.

So has the involvement of parents in relationship to the expanded athletic activities available to their young.

Financial costs vary with the sports chosen and they can be costly.

Those of limited means with more than one of their young in schools that offer a variety of sports can face painful budget challenges.

Parents of my generation didn’t have to worry about choice because demands were limited.

I ran track in high school. My parents did provide my running shoes that lasted three years, but it was a major expense at that time.

For one sport or another in a long list of them today, parents do the same at costs far beyond the price of a pair of running shoes but even those are costly.

There are said to be too many parents who expect results beyond the ability of their young to deliver.

There have been enough lessons learned over the years for parents not to expect too much too soon from their young.

As for that, I did what I could do with five or our own, and those of their families later by cheering for their efforts despite outcomes.

I learned that by running as best I could in both the half mile and mile.

I never won a race because our Co-Captain, David Caldwell, of Byfield, was faster than all of us, and just about everyone else in our meets with others.

Hopefully, that’s what the great number of parents will do for their own I thought as the light turned green and I turned for home.

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Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and former executive editor of The Daily News.