Game Fixer

Making executive decisions

BRIAN BAKER, Sports Editor

When Starbucks used to have quotes on their cups, under the heading “The Way I See It”, one rung true with me.

A city councillor in Everett, Wash., Brenda Stonecipher, said, “Give me world politics, gender politics, party politics, or small-town politics … I’ll take them all over the politics of youth sports”.

I laughed when I first saw it because of the sheer honesty of Stonecipher.

In my hometown I was involved in baseball. It seems once my family and I moved to Whitby, every summer was enveloped by the game. My dad was umpire-in-chief for a lengthy period right up until I moved to Toronto in 2008.

My dad joined the Whitby Minor Baseball Association executive in 1989. That’s a hard-fought 22 years of volunteering. Valiantly he’s still holding up against the morass of politics. He also held the post of president for a few years along with his chief official position, which produced comments from those who had their nose-out-of-joint with umpires.

I only lasted three years in the association. My mom, one.

Why my dad has been with the WMBA through all the drama — which could be a daytime soap with some of the storylines — is because he loves sports. And he genuinely likes people.

Being out of minor baseball for a couple of years has me thinking about getting back into the swing of volunteering.

So, I inquired with Leaside’s Howard Birnie, who’s been involved in baseball for almost 50 years about helping out.

As for politics, Birnie admits, “That’s what happens from becoming big”.

One of the big problems is the short-term commitment some volunteers make.

Mostly parents will join executive committees and only stick around for the duration of their child’s amateur career.

And that’s fine, but Birnie warns about changing association constitutions.

“There are a lot of people my friend likes to call, hit-and-run artists,” he said. “They’re there while their kids are playing and they have all these ideas but then they’re gone.

“I know, five years from now and I’m still well, I’ll still be here, but that guy’s kid stops playing you won’t see him again,” he added. “There can be far reaching affects from the changes you make.”

I’m not a parent, yet. But when politics sullies the volunteer waters, it’s not good for anyone. I am an independent individual, so I don’t get caught up in other people’s problems.

That rubbed some of the folks on the WMBA executive the wrong way. One particular individual sent me weekly emails critiquing my volunteer work on the website.

Another individual, who I left in charge of updating the website while I was in Calgary, decided to alter the website without talking with me first. She wasn’t even an executive member, and my job was Website Director. When I asked why, she said a small collective of the executive didn’t like it. No one mentioned it to me in meetings.

Nor did the subterfuge specialist offer me any names.

Oh, the drama.

But I, like my father, want to help out with sports, and get out to meet people. That attribute is obviously an asset in journalism too.

It also helps when people ground themselves, change their mindset from the reclaim Omaha Beach attitude to organizing a game enjoyed by kids.

Folks, you’re adults, leave the schoolyard pissing matches in your past and think about why and who you are volunteering for: children.

And also take a step back and understand this is something you decided to do in your leisure time.

The emphasis on leisure.

One Comment

  1. Spot on with this article. Love the reference to changing the consitutions. Whitby has done so many changes to theirs it benefits no one anymore.

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