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Commissioner's response to a parent's letter


Written by: Mike Stoughton
Friday, October 24, 2014

Good afternoon Mike,

I want to let you know that many of the panels of the dugout on field 1 have fallen off leaving exposed nails. Before we played a game on field 4, the fathers (volunteer coaches) had to weed the infield. When the fathers prepare the fields before games, they find broken rakes and brooms in the shed. It is embarrassing to host Marlton teams at our fields in these conditions. They charge $90 per player for Fall Ball at their brand new complex. We are charged $145 per player, which is the same price as Spring Ball and the boys do not get a trophy in the fall. Why is it the same price? I really do not understand what we are paying for. Having two sons in the program at a cost of almost $300, I would expect better field conditions. I know that 2 t-shirts and 2 hats probably cost $20. After researching what neighboring towns charge for Fall and Spring ball, I feel like we are greatly overcharged for our sons to play for their town because "Medford parents will pay for it anyway."

Thank you for listening to my concerns. Perhaps, money could be found so these 1st and 2nd graders could get a simple trophy. Maybe changes will be made in the Spring, 2015. Maybe you could give a discount for the second child playing in the program.

With kind regards...

My response:

Thank you very much for your letter. You ask some wonderful questions that I've found myself pondering in the past as the father of three boys in our program. Let me address your concerns in order.

1) Field 1 dugout in disarray

This was the work of vandals. I apologize for the delay but the necessary repairs will begin on Monday, October 6.As many people, I just couldn't find the time coaching one Fall Ball team and assisting on another. I've had a few others who have offered to do the repair once they can free up a couple hours. We all know that this is a difficult task when we're also trying to 1) hold down "real" jobs and 2) raise children, but as I state in the boilerplate at the bottom of each email blast, "MYAA Baseball is YOUR program and it is what YOU make of it.” Please do your part and help out when needed to keep costs down." Parents who want to help out but do not know what to do can participate directly by taking action when an obvious situation needs to be addressed. This includes picking up trash and keeping our baseball complexes in great shape. Since the township turned full control of our fields over to MYAA, it is OUR responsibility to maintain them which leads in to the answer to your next question.

2) Broken rakes and equipment

I frequently repair rakes myself. Probably five times per year that I go buy nuts and bolts and do the repairs myself. This is simply the responsibility of all of us. Again, more participation from parents of players is needed here. The coaches do a lot of work managing the team - items like this, field preparation (dragging, lining, raking) used to be taken up by parents of players other than coaches but it seems that all of these items are falling on the shoulders of the coach. I strongly recommend more participation from those that have a limited or non-existent "official" role on the team.

If something large needs a professional repair, I need to be notified so that I may address it. I don't take regular inventory of our equipment.

3) Other towns’ rates to play baseball are lower

I know of no other town's youth athletic/recreational sports programs that are faced with the financial challenges that MYAA faces. You are correct that a hat, shirt and socks for Fall Ball cost about $15/player but this is the least of the charge. Electricity charges are so astronomical that every year we question the economic feasibility of having a Fall Ball season at all. We've been doing it to attempt to break-even since we have to pay field maintenance for our fields anyway. With electricity charges of over $50k this year and field maintenance (lawn care) costs over $40k as well, we've been challenged to find other avenues of revenue to offset all the costs. Registration fees have been covering electricity and field maintenance costs the past few seasons. Everything else that needs to be done (umpire costs, field equipment costs (new rakes, drags, field liners), catchers equipment costs (a different age group is replenished with complete sets each year), league fees, insurance, special project costs (2014 was the resodding of Field 2, 2015 promises to see new batting cage nets and improved field screens, “L” screens and soft-toss nets), etc. (such as baseballs themselves!)) have come from other sources of revenue such as sponsorship, fund-raising, tournament hosting, etc. It's not "Medford parents will pay for it anyway," but more so, "Here is what MYAA Baseball can offer at a certain price without the assistance of Township tax dollars like those that other towns receive."

4) Younger kids getting a trophy

Since the focus of Fall Ball is instruction and learning and is less competitive than Spring Baseball, we don't award championship nor runner-up trophies at the older levels. Consistent with that philosophy is that no trophies are awarded at the younger levels. This has been the policy of Medford Baseball since I've been involved in the program. I've always wondered if it isn't time to open up the discussion about some type of participation award for the younger level to keep them interested. Our next board meeting is October 7th and I will raise this point for discussion and we will come to a resolution for this Fall season as the end is coming soon and we'd have to act quickly if we do resolve to act.

Remember, we are an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. I pay the same registration fees as everyone else in this program. We need active participation from everyone to keep this program alive. We spend every penny that we bring in on our baseball program. In this year's case - slightly more than we brought in (and this was an "above average year" for sponsorship). We (the Board) are going to take a hard look at registration fees as we establish the budget for 2015. There may be changes but they will be appropriate changes. My goal is to keep things as fair and consistent as possible.

I don't mean to beat a dead horse but it seems that some people out there are still not aware that our program is funded entirely by your registration fees and the generosity of sponsors. The money generated through tournament hosting is due to the hard work of parent participation. We need more parents doing more so that we don't have to pay for these services. And, by getting involved, that means motivating oneself. Don't wait to be asked or trained - just do what you see needs to be done. We don't have a cleaning crew come out to pick up trash or put the trash cans out the night before pickup. We also don't have a cleaning crew for the bathrooms - this also falls on volunteers. (For more information on these jobs, please contact me!I’m getting tired of doing them!)Assume that nothing comes from the township. It burns me up when I overhear "I pay enough taxes," because none of that money is making it's way to your baseball program

We’re all in this together and I think that we’ve done a pretty good job since the township bowed out of youth sports a few years ago but it could be better – with your participation!


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