There's little doubt that basketball is one of the more popular sports in York County.
Many area high school games are played in packed gymnasiums.
Youth leagues, which serve as the feeder system to high school programs, enjoy significant participation.
Local colleges, such as York and Penn State York, showcase prominent teams that often battle for postseason honors in front of large crowds.
With all the regional interest in the sport, it would seem natural that adult programs would share in that success. Indeed, that is often the case. The costs of running adult programs, however, can sometimes price the programs out of business.
One example of that is the York Township Adult Basketball Program. It's been around for more than 30 years, and the adult "pick-up" league has enjoyed success over the years.
Suspended: The costs of the league, especially those associated with renting space in local facilities in Dallastown and at York County School of Technology, have forced the township to suspend program operations indefinitely, pending a solution.
“Schools are tight with their budgets,” township board member Dan Shelly said during the board’s December meeting on Thursday. “They have recently, within the last couple of years, began charging us, not little amounts of money, but significant amounts of money. And you might think, ‘Well, hey it’s just a few bucks,’ but it’s actually hundreds of dollars for each time the school gets used.”
At one point, the township was able to rent facilities at local schools — either York Tech, Dallastown Middle School or Ore Valley Elementary — for next to nothing. That made running the program an easy decision for the township board. The players normally had to pay $2 to $4 to sign up for a night of action.
As the costs started to mount, however, the board had to take a good look at the costs and benefits of the program. Carly Mercadante, the township recreation director, estimated it cost the township several hundred dollars a night to allow the program to continue.
Even with players paying to participate, the costs were still too significant to absorb.
"We’re open to ideas,” said board president Jim O’Neill. “We’re open to (solutions to) bring the costs down. If anyone who has been affiliated with (the program has) an idea for how to make it more reasonable, money-wise, we’re here to listen.”
Program has support: One person affected by the program who attended the meeting was Shannon McPherson. McPherson, whose father, Mike, had helped run the program since its inception, spoke passionately to the board about the positives of the adult program and the need for it to continue.
“I’m hopeful that you are open to continue having this program,” she said. “Previously it was about five days a week, which is a lot of time. So even if we could abridge that to say one or two days a week, it would be great. It would give the opportunity for adult stress relief, which is very important.”
McPherson noted several letters to the township’s rec board — including one that ran recently in the Letters to the Editor section of The York Dispatch from Shawn Preston of York City — as examples of the program's value. In his letter, Preston highlighted Mike McPherson's hard work over the years and emphasized that the program brought together "a group ranging in age, race and cultural backgrounds with no discrimination, just a common love for basketball." Preston also called the program "a safe haven."
Shannon McPherson also pointed out an online petition that generated more than 130 signatures as evidence of the adult program’s importance.
Decision isn't permanent: O’Neill indicated that the board’s decision to suspend the program is not necessarily permanent. The board just needs to find a way to make it work within their budget.
“We just need to get this program to a point where, and I wouldn’t necessarily even say that we have to break even, but we have to find a way to get it closer,” O’Neill said.
Shannon McPherson suggested the possibility of finding some sort of sponsorship as a solution. She noted the Trey & Boo Classic that was held at Penn Park in York City was able to raise enough funds to continue for its sixth year this past summer.
“This year they couldn’t raise enough money to pay for the security that they needed,” McPherson said. “And (state Sen.) Scott Wagner and Penn Waste sponsored it. So that’s an example of an outcry written in the paper and Mr. Wagner went ahead and sponsored it.”
The board was receptive to that idea. One board member even suggested thinking even bigger.
“If you can get Scott to pony up some money, maybe we can build a building,” board member Laura Kirk said with a smile.
The next scheduled meeting of the York Township Recreation Board is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 5. The meetings are held in the training room at the municipal office at 190 Oak Road.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.