Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, April 28, 2016

(Board of Ed) Does Plainfield District's sports program need complete review, revamp?

The Plainfield District's teams bear the Cardinal logo.

Among those who spoke at Tuesday's Plainfield Board of Ed meeting were several who voiced concerns about the District's sports program.

The particular concerns voiced this past Tuesday had to do with programs at the middle school level, which act as feeders for the high school varsity programs.

From a need for more coaches and equipment to questions of the timing of recruitment and training for the competitive seasons, these speakers looked to the Board for help in addressing their concerns.

While I appreciate their earnestness, it reminded me of many presentations before the City Council on various matters -- where the Council actually is not the body to make the corrections.

Other issues with the District's sports programs have cropped up at recent meetings, including problems getting student physicals (necessary before they can participate in sports programs) completed on a timely basis.

There have been complaints of politics in the hiring, firing and shuffling of coaches, as well as turbulence over the position of Athletic Director, who oversees the complete program.

Add to this confusion about the fate of the plan for artificial turf at the Hub Stine complex and assertions that work has never been done on the Joe Black baseball field.

While Plainfield has had many athletes from various programs move on to high profile college and professional sports, its teams' rankings in recent years have been sub-par (this year's boys' baseball being the exception).

The walk-on resolution to send 16 varsity track team members to this week's Penn Relays also raised questions about why such a routine -- and foreseeable -- request had to be handled as an urgent and unscheduled matter.

While the Board does not have authority to manage the sports programs and certainly would be unwise to involve itself directly, it can require the Superintendent to complete a top-to-bottom review of all the sports programs, highlighting any deficiencies and proposing a detailed plan of action to address the situation.

While a point can be made that things should not have been let slide by the Superintendent for so long, fixing it late is better than never fixing it at all.

And the Board can certainly make sure THAT happens.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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