Naples recreation policy irks few

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — A cut-off date to register for the Naples Recreation Department’s sports leagues has drawn complaints from a handful of parents whose children missed the deadline.

Rather than make exceptions for the families whose athletes did not sign up by the “drop dead registration date,” town officials are seeking to educate residents about the policy.

According to Naples Recreation Director Harvey Price, a frequently asked questions-and-answers page has been added to the department’s website, which is accessible through the site, townofnaples.org

Enforcing the policy is fair to everyone playing the sports — and is necessary to allow ample time to select teams, Price told the Naples Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.

“We decided to keep the deadline policy because it is fairer to everyone on the whole. It makes it so you can have fair teams, so everyone is on the same playing level,” Price said.

According to Town Manager Derik Goodine, the town receives a few complaints from parents during each sporting season. In recent months, Goodine had personally talked to a few people who were not pleased with the policy.

Currently, basketball league practices and games are occurring.

The recreation department “this year went to a drop dead sign-up policy — either they sign up by registration or they don’t play the sport,” Goodine said.

Prior to putting the policy in place, the Recreation Committee reviewed and approved it, Price said.

Also, before sports registrations, Price sends “a blast of e-mails” to the addresses of everyone who played that sport in the past. If the e-mail is undeliverable, Price then texts or calls the individual so each person has more than one way — in addition to newspaper advertising and flyers — to find out about registration deadlines for an upcoming sport.

“It’s not like a secretive society. We are trying to make it as well-publicized as we can,” he said.

According to Price, other towns in the region have policies in place that determine a deadline for sports registrations. Those towns have differing dates than Naples — since those are set by recreation committees in those respective towns, he said.

Selectman Dana Watson asked what complaints had been made, because he had not got wind of any.

The town manager had said four children missed the opportunity to play in the football league because they failed to register before the deadline. Goodine said he fielded two of those phone calls, and the town office received a couple of the complaints.

Selectman Rick Paraschak said he had also taken two phone calls from parents trying to get their heads around the newly-enforced policy.

When asked by the board what he thought, Price said, “I honestly think the rules are right.”

Members of the board agreed.

“I say leave it alone and let him enforce it,” Selectman Bob Caron Sr. said.

During a discussion about what venues the basketball leagues were able to use, the selectmen encouraged Price to look into using the old Crooked River School, a building that is utilized for community groups. Price said the department applied for slots at the Crooked River School, but those particular times had been booked. Presently, the basketball leagues practice at their home schools, and hold games at the local middle school, Price said.

Selectman Paraschak urged Price to check into use of the Crooked River School, for future use by the basketball teams.

“Right now, we are set with what we have,” Price responded. “If we had six more teams, it could be an issue.”

Goodine explained to the board another important component of having a child involved in team sports through the region’s recreation departments.

“We have parental training. Parents have to go to a good sportsmanship workshop because of the level of ruckus that has taken place,” Goodine said.

Price continued, “In the past, we have had parents yell at coaches, yell at other parents.

“For example, some parents don’t realize you get five seconds in the lane, and not three seconds,” he said, adding this misperception results in a tendency to argue with the referees.

Price said the recreation department created a mandate that requires at least one parent or guardian to attend the sportsmanship class. If attending the offered classes is not feasible, the parent can meet one-on-one with the recreation director to discuss issues covered in the workshop.

“In the last three years, there have been not outbursts from the public in the stands,” Caron observed.

Price sided with Caron’s statement.

“It has gotten better. And, it is one of those things we don’t want to stop just because it has gotten better,” Price said.

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