Just Sayin’ with Justin: Sports Correspondent Justin Wolford talks expansion of county sports


 In this week’s article I want to summarize previous thoughts and expand on some new ones in preparation for the resumption of our sports programs on January 11, 2021

It is exciting to get ready for the return of the sports we hold dear. We can watch our kids and grandkids engage in the time-honored position of besting the other team in combat. It’s a tradition that dates back to the inception of this country, but I can see some troubling trends in todays programs. I have touched on some of them in previous articles but let’s recap for those who may have not read the previous articles.

Let’s start at the top with the State, Regional and Local boards. There is a long list of disinformation, lack of transparency and nepotism on each of the boards across all sports. We have husband and wife teams dominating the votes, lack of new and sometimes dissenting voices to be heard on each board and a cadre of “Yes” men propping up the kings. Just like in our own government, a slew of checks and balances need to be put into place. Term limits, no nepotism and crystal-clear transparency when it comes to voting, accounting records and current problems, so much so that many parents and coaches alike are confused and frustrated with the current systems in place and the disinformation that arises so as the right hand never knows what the left is doing and vice versa. Reforms need to be put into place at each level and new more precise charters put in place.

Now we will move on to the coaches, each level should be working intimately with every other level to produce top-tier programs in the county. The High school coaches should be working with the middle school coaches and the middle school coaches with the little league coaches. This gives everyone the same vision and playbook and incentive to perform well at the highest levels.

Finally, our children need to acquire a passion and fire for each game they play. With the many distractions today, us as parents need to encourage and feed them with the competitive juices. Some kids are naturally born with it and others need encouragement from parents and coaches to bring it out. Lets all work hard in 2021 to give our kids the nourishment of challenge, on the field/court and off.

I have dedicated articles on each of the previous points above and also about the prospect of the potential construction of an indoor sporting facility in Taylor County in which we desperately need.

I recently read the Aspen Institute’s article on sports in our country and it stated that “In the time period from 2008 to 2016, sports participation and fitness have significantly dropped. Nearly 3 million fewer children have played basketball, soccer, track and field, baseball, football, and softball, and less than 1 in 3 children between the ages of 6-12 participated in a high-calorie-burning sport or fitness activity three times a week, according to SFIA data.” The article went on to say that “the number of kids participating in sports is decreasing. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the number of kids that played a team sport on a regular basis decreased from 44.5 percent in 2008 to 35.9 percent in 2016.” In six years, we have had a drop of 8.6 percent. The number one reason for the decline… household income. It is my hope that a child who wants to play any sport never has to feel the sting of a financial rejection. We have a wonderful close knit community that helps tremendously and I have witnessed numerous coaches and parents give their time, their own money and encouragement to kids they know that need a little more help and attention, but we can always do better and we have it in us to do so much more.

As we enter the next season of sports, let us all work together to make Taylor County athletics the absolute best it can be! 

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