Respect the Dirt | Softball is For Girls

The school my children attend, recently completed the construction of a new gymnasium at the high school to the tune of 7.2 million dollars.

7.2 MILLION DOLLARS! For a place to run and play sports in. A place to have pep-rallys. Yeah, it’s nice…but 7.2 million dollars??????

This sparked our curiosity and we started doing some research to see just how much it takes to build a softball complex. And what we ended up with is a rant that your daughters need to hear about respecting the dirt.

Let’s start small. Itty bitty, really! 

A 4 field facility with a building in the center that includes concession stands, and bathrooms as well as storage areas. Basically the same set up you see at many new parks. And of course you need a parking lot.

By the time we were done, we were looking at a nearly minimum $500K investment depending on the area which the park was built. More depending on the land necessary. And a decent facility recently built near the Atlanta area – with 5 lighted fields, cost 3.6 million dollars.

When I was a kid, and when you were a kid – we were lucky to find an open yard or pasture, used the soles of our feet and rakes to scratch away the grass and used our coats for bases. And we were happpy.

Yet today, it takes a humble (insert sound of throat clearing) $500K softball field to get us to complain. 

“Oh the bathroom is nasty!” “This infield is so hard!” “The bleachers are facing the sun too much” “The parking is soooo far away from the field!” “The playground is really small” “Why don’t they have nets over the bleachers?” “This park has no trees.” “I hate this park” (We are just as guilty!)

It is unreasonable, and ridiculous really to expect our girls to understand the massive investment being made into them via the softball fields alone, considering in today’s world, 3G internet access is a hardship, right? This is the world they live in.

But we want them to know!

We want them to know that every grain of dirt on the field, the pitching rubber, the bases, the outfield grass, and the fences. The bleachers they leave their trash under, and the grassy areas near the newly planted dogwood trees where they lounge between games, as well as the bathrooms that flushed perfectly fine until someone didn’t flush them 5 times in a row and then tried to flush a pile of toilet paper, and everything big and small thing provided for them came at a cost. A large cost. To someone.

We want the girls to understand that if they walked into a million dollar home and treated it the way some folks treat the softball field, they would likely not be invited back. 

We want the girls to know that great care, and a hell of a lot of hard work and physical laborious manpower went in to making sure the fields were level and safe for her to play.

That someone probably spent hours grading through that dirt to find any rocks, and that it is THEIR duty to pick up a few rocks as they see them in the infield as well. In fact, if every girl picked up 3 rocks every time they stepped on a field and got them out of the infield, our fields would be a whole lot nicer to play on in just a matter of months.

We want the girls to know that the bathroom wall that they are writing on, was painted by someone. That the fence with the sign that says ‘ no pepper’ was built by someone who works hard for a living, and that it cost someone a hell of a lot of money. That the batting cages and the nets and the tees and everything that they come in contact with is the product of someone’s hard work FOR THEM!

Even, the flowers and monkey grass they trampled over to take a short cut – were planted by someone. And sometimes for a reason such as to control drainage, not just to look pretty.

Our girls need to be made aware of just how much money and manpower and time and effort goes into affording them this awesome opportunity to play.

They need to visit a softball field, walk through the gate and be shown all the different hand-prints that had a part in making this available to them. They need to get a visual from the people who baked in the hot sun and poured the concrete, to the guys that leveled the ground, to the person who did the wiring for the lights, to the crew that installed the fences – to every single labor of LOVE in between that enables them to play a game for pleasure.

They need to take a breath of appreciation for the blades of grass, the running water. Thank the people that stay at the park all day and take care of the trashcans and unclog the toilets and reline and drag the fields. They need to arrive at a ballpark at 4:30am and see how they are prepared hours before the first team arrives for a day of play.

They need to realize that each field is their field, built in their honor, because of them-  and that they share these fields with thousands of other people. That had it not been for the hard work, the money, the desire of someone else to provide them with a place to play, they would be playing on fields like we did when we were kids.

Our point is they need to be shown to respect the dirt beneath their feet. To understand how it all got there in one place, how much money was spent. They need to realize that the 4.5 million dollars put into building a place to play, could have easily went to other things. To not ALLOW these years and moments to pass, without showing our daughters what was done in their names. 

They need to realize the massive expense and trouble and effort that has been put forth by so many people, just so that they could play softball. 

When we think about what we would do with a million dollars, the things we could build and provide – it truly is stunning to look around the United States and see all the softball fields scattered around, just for our girls to play ball.

Respect the dirt y’all!

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