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Series aims to make good thing better

A series of stories on youth sports in Demopolis began Saturday, May 22, in The Times. For the next five days, those stories will continue an in-depth look at the future of our sports leagues and one of the most pressing concerns surrounding them.

There are a few things we want readers to understand as we embark on a personal and important issue for our readers as it relates to youth sports and the growing air of negativity around our youth leagues.

Most, if not all, families in Demopolis and Marengo County have some sort of connection with youth sports. Whether it’s a son, daughter, nephew, cousin, husband or grandfather, we all have people who either participate in or watch youth sports. In that light, we believe working with our community to make recreation a positive experience for everyone is an important role for our newspaper.

Second, the point of this series is to make things better for everyone — from the umpires to the parents to the kids. Obviously, making something better means taking an opportunity and improving on it. The opportunity, in this case, is the occasional sense of negativity that rears its ugly head around our recreational sports. Our objective is to analyze the negatives and find ways to make them positives.

Finally, this is not a series that highlights how wonderful our youth leagues are in Demopolis. However, readers should know that we appreciate the work of every parent, coach, umpire and child involved in youth league sports. For that matter, the vast majority of games played at the SportsPlex are positive in nature. Most coaches, parents and umpires play by the rules and have enduring influences on the young people around them.

If this were a public relations piece for the Parks and Recreation Department, we’d never delve into the negative aspects of youth sports. This is not a PR piece, though, and we’ll work hard to balance to positives with the negatives.

In the end, our only ambition is to create one of the best youth leagues in Alabama. We don’t consider youth league sports a catastrophe in Demopolis. In fact, we consider them an attraction. Because of that, we want to play a role in ensuring their continued success.

The problems surrounding youth league sports in Demopolis are not the worst in the nation, or the state. But if the issue is not addressed — if parents and umpires and coaches can’t provide a positive atmosphere for our children — we believe the consequences could be profound.

For a city intent on growing, we consider youth sports to be one of our biggest attractions. And as we report on this attraction, we hope to play a part in creating a public relations tool — our young people — that brings more and more visitors and residents to our community.