Monday, June 07, 2010

7 JUN 10: Kicked Out

Our best wishes to WTVM meteorologist Derek Kinkade. He's sitting down during the weather forecast these days, because a leaping catch at a kickball game last week put him in the hospital with a slipped disc. The only sport that comes to mind when I think of slipped discs is a hockey puck.

Yes, I wrote Derek Kinkade played in a kickball game. Did you know Columbus has adult leagues for kickball? And dodgeball? And wiffleball? And probably other children's games which aren't played at PlayDate Columbus nights?

I'd heard about these unusual sports leagues, but didn't realize who was behind them until this past weekend. Derek Kinkade is part of the "GO Kickball" program, which plays games at 29th Street Park. You have to be at least 21 years old to play - which either is due to the post-game parties at bars, or the risk that fifth-graders will show up all the adults.

Until Derek Kinkade showed off his trophy during Sunday Sports Overtime, I almost put him in the wrong program. Believe it or not, Columbus has dueling adult kickball leagues -- in a city that's barely big enough to support one real minor league baseball team.

The competition for GO Kickball is a year-old nonprofit organization called Beyond the Game, which calls itself "a co-ed sports and social club" for adults. It must be for adults, to use an antiquated word like "co-ed" in its description....

Beyond the Game apparently has enough money to put an ad in the latest Town Shopper Coupon mailing. Its organizers include Columbus Lions coach Jason Gibson -- so of course, there's a football program to go with the kickball. It's helmet-free flag football. And this close to Fort Benning, those flags had better be red, white and blue.

Beyond the Game is the organization which dares to offer local leagues in dodgeball and wiffleball. But the official website had nothing in the wiffleball area Sunday night - reminding me it's easy to "whiff" in that game.

These programs make their money through registration fees - and GO Kickball uses some of that money to pay the officials. They pay off the referees so none of the coaches feel they have to do it....

The kickball leagues caught my attention because of the current tumult over "Rec-Gate" and the Columbus Innovative Sports Program. If city officials can't operate sports programs properly, private organizations may be willing to step in. And as long as players pay registration fees, the leagues won't care if they're from Columbus or Cancun.

The Columbus Lions run a Youth Indoor Football League, which had four games Sunday at the Civic Center. The league standings indicate some of the teams are based in Smiths Station and Waverly Hall -- so that season had better end, before the Ledger-Enquirer starts checks those registration lists as well.

But we must note these privately-run leagues rely to a large extent on Columbus city facilities, such as fields at city parks. So the people who want to do away with city-funded sports teams still might find teams at those facilities -- unless the critics want every ball diamond in Columbus to be as empty as Golden Park.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION on the Columbus Parks Director closed Sunday afternoon, with 13 out of 16 voters deciding Tony Adams is NOT salvageable. Before Adams and his attorney become too emotional about this, they should remember something. Our voters also said the Columbus State University President should resign [29 Apr], and Tim Mescon still has his job.

"Where is the theft?" asked one Tony Adams supporter in our comments section, adding some people are using the city Parks Department audit to make him "guilty until proven innocent." That commenter needs to drive to the Alabama Gulf coast, and make that same argument to critics of British Petroleum.

The Tony Adams backer argued there's no "probable cause" for having police follow up on the Parks Department audit, which would have officers removed "from protecting our citizens...." This person seems to forget Columbus has almost 100 new officers now, compared to the Fire/EMT review of 2008. And sad to say, a police review of some parks might uncover more stray razor blades.

On the other hand: "It's really deeper than you can imagine," one person wrote - suggesting police should interview every single employee of the Columbus Parks Department. But why stop there? Investigators might enjoy some long road trips to central Florida, to question basketball players.

Another commenter wrote Tony Adams sets a bad example for Innovative Sports Program athletes - that by taking long road trips, "it's OK to waste other people's money." Aw, c'mon! Georgia political candidates have been doing that, by holding fund-raising parties in New York and Hollywood.

One comment directed us to the home page of the Georgia Blazers AAU program, claiming: "It looks like the website has been gutted. Albums not gone. Forum not working. Player info gone." Well, not ALL the player info - like the home page profile of a state champion triple-jumper, who happened to attend high school in Early County.

Then there was the voter who asked Sunday if our survey deserved to be extended another week. Easy answer: no. The outcome of the vote is clear. Our records suggest the same person left five out of eight comments, using four different names. And depending on your point of view, visitors had seven full days to either offer their opinions or pile on the accusations.

Meanwhile, Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer reported at least one-third of the Innovative Sports Program's coaches in recent years have been city employees. Doesn't this actually show how tight the Parks Department budget is? Not every program can afford to have a Bobby Howard coach for a few months, and claim retirement income the rest of the year.

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