Players, coaches, parents frustrated over Birmingham Park & Rec canceling youth sports
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Coaches and parents of some City of Birmingham youth baseball teams are saying they are frustrated with the cancellation of their season.
“I’m mad because I can’t play no more,” said baseball player Calveon Woods. “I like to go outside and play baseball.”
Plenty of other children are feeling the same. One parent said her son basically called the cancellation pathetic. Another parent said her daughter cried when she found out.
“One word is unfair,” said Carlos Rogers, Wenonah Pirates Baseball Coach. “It’s unfair for the parents. It’s unfair for the community. It’s unfair for the city and most importantly, it’s unfair for the kids.”
Rogers and another coach Clarence Harris said they were surprised to hear about the news on Thursday when they showed up for a baseball game.
“Nobody from Birmingham said nothing or contacted me,” said Harris.
“When I got to the game, they told me the game was canceled,” said Rogers. “I thought it was just the game but come to find out, it was the league... The answer that I got from the league -- that the parks didn’t pay the fees.”
As of Saturday afternoon, they say nobody from the city’s park & recreation department tried contacting them, but Rogers did get ahold of an email sent to other people.
That email reads: “We as a department have decided to cancel the 2023 Youth baseball season because organizations have not payed the registration fee of $150 per team before the Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 extended deadline. The original registration deadline was Wednesday, April 19th, 2023, as stated before registration fees are a essential part of the start up process for any program. Organizations have not shown a level of commitment to pay or dedicate themselves to our youth baseball program. With today Thursday, May 4th, 2023 being the last day of Week 1 schedule of a already short four week season not receiving fees have led us to this outcome. Please feel free to contact me regarding this matter.”
“We pay for our bats,” said Harris. “We pay for our equipment. At the end of the day, the only people that would be out anything other than just a facility to practice in is the coaches that volunteer... We will come out of our pocket to pay whatever we need to pay if they’re willing to let us use the facilities.”
Parents say canceling the season leaves their kids without a positive outlet and too much free time.
“My baby woke up this morning thinking she had a game but she didn’t,” said Sanquenetta Bailey. “It’s like when I tell her she don’t have practice or a game, she get cry and get mad about it because she loves the sport now.”
“These kids are engulfed with social media,” said Valerie Freeman. “They need to be out where they can 1 - be physical. Where they can 2 - be social; like real social where you’re talking person to person. 3 - just keeps them out of trouble. It gives them something to burn that extra energy that they could be using doing mischievous things.”
“It’s more than about this city,” explained Rogers. “It’s about the future of this city and it starts with the youth... Nothing wrong with a kid waking up thinking, ‘I’m going to hit some home runs today.’ We’re just here to save baseball.”
WBRC FOX 6 reached out to the City of Birmingham for an official statement but haven’t heard back as of Saturday night.
We also called the Athletic Program Coordinator with the Park and Recreation Department on Friday who said he couldn’t talk about it per legal council.
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