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Plant City Observer Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 7 months ago

What’s on Kline’s Mind? Take advantage of midnight sports

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The YMCA’s latest offering is good for Plant City youths.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

I

f the Plant City Family YMCA is able to permanently keep its midnight sports going, that’s a win for the community.

Our sports scene only gets better when we breathe new life into it. As simple as it may seem, getting something healthy for kids to do on a Friday night can go a long way, especially toward the Y’s stated goal of having a way to keep kids out of trouble.

Not everyone who participates in basketball, futsal and whatever else may be offered is going to fall into that at-risk category. But this is exactly the kind of thing that can help some kids make better choices. I don’t enjoy reading weekly police reports and seeing that juveniles were out breaking into cars or shooting at windows with BB guns when they instead could have been playing sports in a safe environment.

Sports have long been a way to help kids stay on the right path. We often trust coaches to not only lead players on the field for the sake of the game itself but also to help develop them off the field so they’ll learn what it means to grow up and become good citizens. The best coaches are there for their kids through thick and thin, no matter the time of day.

This isn’t necessarily giving the kids that kind of coaching — it’s a recurring series of events, not actual sports leagues — but it’s in the same ballpark. Somebody cares about kids’ welfare enough to give them somewhere to go, play sports and be safe. I know there are also events for older teens and adults, and maybe they help in similar ways. But the most important thing here, in my opinion and the Y’s, is being there for the kids.

I went to the basketball event held two weeks ago and can confirm they’re all about having fun up there. The basketball night had 25 kids participate and all of them were visibly having a good time playing full and half-court ball. Unfortunately, last week's planned futsal event was canceled at the last minute due to low turnout. I was pretty bummed to hear that, as I was looking forward to checking it out. I'm hoping the community would give it a shot in the future if it's brought back.

This program would be a solid addition to the Plant City community. I’m not here to tell the Y how to spend its time and money, but I’d love to see midnight sports stick around for the long haul.

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Times & Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013, and hosts the weekly Gridiron Report podcast during high school football season.

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