Let them play! Let them play!

All across the country there have been stories of sports programs in local communities and at junior/senior high schools being cut because of rampant budget shortfalls. It is startling in light of all the stories we have about kids being overweight or obese, spending too much time indoors, etc. Cutting sports is certainly not helping deal with that problem. And nor does cutting sports contribute to the bettering of our youth, who are being denied opportunities to have fun, work together, and develop essential life skills honed while playing sports.

Thankfully individuals, companies, and organizations are stepping in in some cases to make sure that sports continue for these youngsters. In Los Angeles, we have such a situation, one involving one of the biggest (if not the biggest) school districts in the country.

In a story from the Los Angeles Times and ESPNLosAngeles, we learned that the L.A. Unified School District is going to receive $1.4 million from such a group of generous individuals, companies, and organizations, who want to prevent the cutting of staff and programs.

Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt and the LA84 Foundation led an effort that includes contributions from Nike, Chivas USA, the Weingart Foundation, Easton Sports Development Foundation, the Lincy Foundation and the Peter and Ginny Ueberroth Charitable Trust. The support of this incredible group allows the school district to avoid having to cut its sports budget by 25 percent. Such a cut was going to involve losing 700 coaches and sports programs at more than 70 high schools.

We applaud the efforts of all those helping to maintain vitally important services for the kids in that school district. It is a district, even in good economic times, that is challenged financially, so support now is vital.

In the future, i.e. 2011 and beyond, administrators, parents, and others must come together to figure out a way to build a sustainable model that ensures sports are there for the students. They cannot regularly count on the generosity of even the most well-intentioned individuals and organizations. It, and we, must stand on our own.

To read the article by Eric Sondheimer from the Los Angeles Times, please click here.  To read the piece by Peter Yoon from ESPNLosAngeles, please click here.

And if you want to know where the title for this post came from, check out this classic scene from a classic movie (starts at the 3-minute mark)