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EDITORIAL: Hoops program can be saved by its players

York Dispatch
  • The York Township Adult Basketball Program has been suspended.
  • The township cited rising costs as the reason.
  • An online petition has been started in an attempt to save the program.

Governing a growing municipality is an often thankless job.

There's little or no pay, lots of hours and plenty of complaints to field.

Zach Strang of Showtime shoots over James Brooks of Weber Inc. during the York Summer Basketball Division I championships at Voni Grimes Gym in 2015. Another local adult basketball program in York Township has been suspended because of financial issues.

Some constituents will expect an array of services, while others will demand their taxes never increase.

It's surely a difficult tight rope to walk.

The folks on the York Township Recreation Board can tell you all about that demanding balancing act.

For more than three decades, the York Township Adult Basketball Program has been a valued part of the community. A few times per week, folks of varying ages, races and cultural backgrounds would congregate at a local school gymnasium for a little exercise, a little competition and lots of fun. It's been called a “safe haven” from the pressures of the outside world

The success of the program was largely attributed to the tireless work of Mike McPherson, who has been its leader and driving force since 1981.

It was a positive experience for everyone involved.

The schools charged the township a nominal fee for gym use and each of the participants chipped in a few bucks each night to cover some of the costs.

Changing times: Now, however, times have changed, and prices have gone up — significantly. The school, facing a budget stretched to the breaking point, has been forced to raise the price for gym use.

As a result, York Township recreation director Carly Mercadante recently estimated it would cost the township several hundred dollars a night to allow the program to continue.

That's a big nut to cover for a relatively small municipality (less than 30,000 residents).

As a result, the township has suspended the program, pending a solution to the financial shortfall.

Not surprisingly, the folks who have supported the program for decades are not happy.

At last count, more than 130 people had signed an online petition to resume the program. A letter to the editor also recently appeared in The York Dispatch supporting the program.

To the credit of most of the folks involved, public bashing seems to have been kept to a minimum. The rec board members and the program supporters both seem committed to finding a solution, if possible.

York Township adult hoops league has uncertain future

It's apparent, however, that the township can no longer be expected to cover the increasing costs of the program.

Township rec board president Jim O’Neill said the township isn't looking to make money on the program, or even break even, “but we have to find a way to get it closer.”

The best way to do that is through sponsorships and fundraisers. The adult baseball and softball teams in York County already do that with some success.

If sponsorships and fundraisers can't cover the increased costs, then the folks who directly benefit from the program may need to pay a higher price to participate. Most recently, it cost $4 per night to compete in the program. That may need to go up.

No one likes to beg for sponsors, sell raffle tickets or shell out more money, but the alternative is the loss of a program that is clearly a valuable asset to the York Township community, and beyond.

Passing on the rising costs to tens of thousands of township taxpayers for a program that only benefits hundreds of residents, at most, is not a reasonable alternative.

The township doesn't pay for adult golfers to golf or adult bowlers to bowl. They must pay their own way.

It should be no different for adult basketball players.

The solution to saving to program is out there, and it should rest squarely on the shoulders of the adults who participate in it.