Bird at Play: Doing acts of charity

Recreational sports can be expensive. In addition to the league fees, a player needs to be outfitted with the proper equipment for their sport. You child's uniform may be included in the league fees but if not, that's an additional cost.

If your young player participates in more than one sport, changing sports like a chameleon, the expenses double and triple as the new sport requires more of the same.

If your athlete plays at the club level, the cost of participation is exponentially greater. The seasons run from one to the next without much down time. Your team may hire outside trainers or pay your coaches. You may pay your share of rental fees as you move indoors or to reserve precious field or gym time. Add to your cash outlay travel fees like hotels, meals, and even gas and you need a part-time job to keep up.

Just think what good we could do with all of the money we spend on youth sports.

Critics of our culture's obsession for sports would make the point that the significant use of our resources, both treasure and time, we spend on recreational sports could be better served toward curing disease, feeding the hungry, and bringing about world peace.

And they'd be right.

But they'd be selling short the contributions to society's ills that youth sports participants and volunteers do both on and off the field.

McDaniel College sports teams are involved in community outreach programs and run day camps for kids. High school teams across the county run various fundraisers. Girls' soccer teams raise money to beat breast cancer. Volleyball teams work together to help fight cancer.

Two county lacrosse teams are "Sticking Up for the Homeless" by recruiting pledges for each goal scored to raise money for Human Services Programs of Carroll County for food, shelter and other necessities for the homeless. Student volunteers from around the county converged on Ruby Field at Westminster High School last week to support and celebrate the athletes of the Special Olympics.

It doesn't have to be an organized sports team to make contributions to improve the lives of others. Middle and elementary schools hold fun walks and jump rope challenges to raise money. Practically each weekend of the year, throughout the county you will find some sort of fun run, half marathon, or Turkey Trot, all centered around making money for their designated charity.

These charity events can be small and local like a 5K run to raise money for the milk fund of Carroll County Food Sunday to the large and ultra-organized Relay for Life to raise money for The American Cancer Society.

The same parents that shell out countless dollars for their kids sports also dig into their pockets and help raise money for the less fortunate. The money raised is a great by-product of the effort involved but the true prize is the life lessons the kids learn from their charitable acts.

We have them for only a short time but the foundations we build for them will serve them for a lifetime. An old proverb says, "Charity begins at home, but should not end there."

And in rec sports, we're doing our share.

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