Portland observer. (Portland, Or.) 1970-current, September 21, 2016, Image 1

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    Concert to End
Gun Violence
Death Row
Musicians to
front Ceasefire
Oregon stage
Justice groups
foster public
See A&E, page 11
See Local
News, page 3
QR code for
Portland Observer
‘City of Roses’
Volume XLV
Number 38
Established in 1970
Wednesday • September 21, 2016
Committed to Cultural Diversity
A Path for Kids to Grow
Friends of Baseball
reach out to reverse
declining numbers
N ova N ewcomer
“I just don’t know where to sign my child up for base-
ball,” one mom told us. For others it was comments like,
“baseball is dying or kids just don’t want to play.” These are
real issues that can be addressed in our communities when
we work together. Access is the number one barrier to kids
being able to participate in team sports. And it’s an issue
that every sports community is beginning to take a serious
look at.
“Baseball used to be the sport where all you needed was
a stick and a ball. It used to be a way out for poor kids. Now
it’s a sport that increasingly freezes out kids whose parents
don’t have the income to finance the travel baseball circuit,”
Andrew McCutchen, a black baseball star who recently
won the Roberto Clemente Award for community service,
recently said.
And just last month, David Squires’ wrote in his Unde-
feated piece, Death of Baseball Hurts Heart, Soul of Black
Community, “Sadly, America’s long ago pastime – and
black America’s strong connection – is nearly invisible in
our neighborhoods.”
According to ESPN, 3.5 million kids in the United States
will lose access to sports this decade.
But local youth development organizations like Friends
of Baseball are working to reverse that trend, using sports as
a vehicle to reach, engage, and nurture children.
In the last year, the organization has partnered with oth-
er community groups to establish an after school program
called Full Count at several Portland metro area public
schools and is working to increase opportunities for youth
of color and low income youth whose access to baseball
specifically, has plummeted in recent years due to housing
and economic instability.
One of the most difficult impacts of gentrification is what
it does to important social structures for displaced commu-
nities. Much like church communities and other gathering
places, community sports leagues are upended. For exam-
ple, the once thriving Peninsula Little League was more
than just a place to play, it was central to the childhood
memories for many youth in north and northeast Portland.
Paul Knauls Jr of Geneva’s Shear Perfection and a recent
volunteer baseball coach for Jefferson High School said,
“Little league baseball gave this community so much in
terms of a vehicle to unite, mentor and inspire children who
are often forgotten. When children see all the parents and
community members at the games supporting their efforts
on the field, it makes a difference in their lives early on.”
Knauls emphasizes what research on sports demonstrates
A pair of local youth experience the lasting bonds and positive interactions that are part of the experience of
playing youth sports like baseball.
c oNtiNued oN P age 5