Lights on Augusta County School Softball fields and the one Baseball field with no lights
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While softball and baseball fields are not required to be identical under the title nine they are required to be of the same quality. Quality includes lights press box is been seen dugouts batting cages facilities game times and all other aspects that go into practicing and playing the game.
While this is a very expensive request I believe our children are worth. I also know that our athletes deserve to be treated equally. Our children have a right to participate in sports without being worried about injuries due to not being able to see. As parents and as our school board we owe it to the students to ensure their safety as well as equal conditions.
I believe it is past time to invest in our girls futures. My daughter want to continue with softball on a national level. Like many girls in Augusta County she has talent and a love of sports. She also has a 4.0 average. I hear everyone say get your kids involved in school activities to keep them out of trouble, yet we as a county do as little as possible to support the female athletes. I know that games have been called for time at softball games and the girls are expected to go watch the boys play under lights on the baseball field. It is time to stop discriminating against female athletes. Female athletes are as worthy as the males. Our daughters are just as important as our sons and I have both.
In 1975 the director of the office for civil rights issued a title IX guidance memo which states “the fact that a particular segment of an athletic program is supported by funds received from various sources (such as student fees, general revenues, gate receipts, alumni donations, booster clubs and nonprofit donations) does not remove it from the reach of the statute and regulatory requirements.” So our schools are still responsible for ensuring that there is equity among our female and male sports team. Even if donations are given to help build a pressbox,put up lights, or build a new batting cage just for baseball. The school is obligated to insure the same quality for a female softball players.
While Riverheads baseball may not have lights on their field, I believe every other baseball field and Augusta County Schools does, But they do not have lights at their softball fields. Under title nine it is not required that Softball. have lights if baseball does and vice versa but it is required that disadvantage be offset somewhere else in the program, and I’m not sure where we see that happening in our programs?
When we play at home our girls warm up for an hour. We have arrived at games and been given as little as 10 minutes, and usually no more than 30 when traveling away, to warm up because it is important that softball starts on time since there are no lights on the fields. If baseball needs extra time to warm up because buses are late getting us somewhere it is not a huge issue because they have lights on their field. We put our girls at risk for serious injuries by not allowing them adequate time to warm up.
At the beginning of our season when we first start playing games the sunsets early, and we have had games that have been called because it is too dark before we finish seven innings, and even had games called before the 2 1/2 hour time limit. Baseball however does not have to worry about this issue at all.
Another issue in regards to equity in the quality of the fields that we see at the Riverheads school is fencing. On the baseball field they have a fence on the foul side that extends almost all the way to the outfield fence. They are left with very little area that they need to paint a white line for to show that the ball would be out of play. On the softball field our fence on the left foul side only extends halfway to the outfield fence, and we are left painting all the way to that fence. If the ball goes over that white line it acts as an imaginary fence and the ball is not dead, the biggest issue though is a storm drain that lays right on the outside of the white line. An outfielder who is running for a ball is not going to see a painted white line on the grass and it is not going to stop them like a fence does. We paint a white circle around the drain and warn teams and our players if the ball is going toward the drain stop and it will be dead because if they hit that metal top with their cleats they can be seriously injured. If our fence were to extend further up an approach the outfield fence like the baseball field we would not have to worry about our girls injuring themselves.
Sports have a huge impact on our students, and I want to see as many students as possible participating in them, but I also want to make sure that we maintain the same quality for the girls sports that the boys sports receive. We should not have to worry about our players getting injured because we are not providing the same quality fields for them that the other sports received.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter
Fort Defiance Parent
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