Oxford Park Commission to focus on fun

Published 5:52 am Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Oxford Park Commission is working to revise its bylaws to reflect a renewed philosophy that it’s not whether you win or lose – it’s how you play the game.

And games should be fun, says OPD Director Seth Gaines.

“The role of a parks and recreation department should be providing recreation for all city and county residents, regardless of skill level,” he said. “I may have two left feet and can’t dance at all, but a parks and rec department should have programs where people like me can dance because we enjoy it.”

Gaines said he wants OPC to help foster a love of sports for children of all ages and ability levels and to help them develop those skills, as well as offer a chance for children to try out a variety of sports.

“Someone may really want to play baseball but doesn’t have the skills to make the high school baseball team,” he said. “But with rec sports, they have a place.”

OPC will be following the National Standards for Youth Sports, that establishes national standards in four major core areas that include maintaining child-centered policies and philosophies; choosing, screening and training volunteers; ensuring parents provide positive support; and providing a safe playing environment.

The standards guide parks and rec programs like OPC to bring the focus back to children developing skills and a love for sports in an atmosphere where the fun is more important than the win.

However, that doesn’t mean that kids won’t get the chance to win at OPC.

“There will be winning and losing teams and that’s important because it teaches life lessons,” Gaines said. “But it’s not the focus. We’re focusing on providing the maximum number of games for everyone.”

OPC will be limiting post-season and league championship games, which now provides more game time to a select number of players.

“If we have a baseball team that really wants to play in a tournament, then I’ll sign off on that and let them have that experience,” Gaines said. “But it won’t be our focus.”

In the NSYS, it’s recommended that scores aren’t kept for sports involving children 8 years old and under.

“The parents will keep score and the kids will continue to keep score,” he said. “Everyone should strive to be better and we want to make sure we don’t lose focus on the inclusion of everyone having fun on the field.”

Gaines said OPC will also be reaching out to parents via social media efforts to help them understand what the core standards are for parents.

“One of the standards for parents is to have all parents sign a parental code of conduct when they sign their child up for sports with OPC,” Gaines said. “We want everyone to enjoy themselves out there.”

The National Standards for Youth Sports can be read online at www.nays.org.