Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hope none of their parents are attorneys

This is a very early strip from "Cleats," which is one of my favorites. Bill Hinds, the artist-half of "Tank McNamara" and creator of "Buzz Beamer," a strip in Sports Illustrated Jr., is artist and writer on this one, which is about kids in rec sports. (A very early strip indeed, come to think of it. Visit the Cleats site for a look at how a strip evolves -- or is intelligently redesigned -- over five years or so.)

But this particular strip was the one that made me a Cleats fan -- it touched on an exposed nerve.

I keep waiting for some town attorney to pipe up at a meeting some time and say, "Do you know how much trouble we'd be in, if some kid got hurt doing this, and we issued the permit for it?"

And yet every summer, you've got the sports teams out at intersections in towns that aren't nearly as small as they used to be, panhandling for spare change from passing cars. Granted, the kids aren't often this young, but it's still an awfully foolish and annoying thing to do.

I don't have the same feeling about "boot drives," where the local volunteer fire department asks for contributions. I figure, if I'm ever driving through that town and end up in a ditch, those are the guys who will come get me out -- either as firefighters if it's serious or, if it's not, just as friendly guys who happened to come by.

But it's been a long time since I've had the kind of travel emergency that required me to attend a rec league game.

I also have no problem with the kids jumping up and down on street corners, waving signs beckoning me into the car wash. That's my choice, and if I've got a couple of bucks and dusty car, I'll succumb once in awhile.

But that's a far cry from "aggressive panhandling," which is what they call it when someone without a permit starts walking up to cars at stoplights and asking for change.

I believe in youth sports. But dodging traffic shouldn't be one of them.


BrianFies said...

I've never seen kids doing this before. All the organized sports leagues around here (California) seem to get by with car washes, various packaged food sales (frozen cookie dough, etc.), and raffles for prizes they really hope you don't show up to collect. Think it might be a regional thing?

Mike said...

Bill is in Texas, and I see it all the time here in rural New York. Interesting question. Maybe Californians are just smarter?

Okay, we know THAT isn't the answer ...

Mark Jackson said...

I don't recall seeing it in non-rural New York (Rochester and Ithaca), nor in Illinois, nor in Southern California. For that matter not in Paris, either, although there might have been a bake sale for the Force de Frappe.

Mike said...

I wouldn't expect to see it in the city, of course. One of the issues I have is that places I've lived like Plattsburgh and Glens Falls have grown to the size where it's not safe to allow this anymore, and yet they continue because it's "tradition."

Boot Drives for the local VFD are very common in hamlets along relatively large roads, usually at a four-way stop or (if they have one) a stop light, but, in places where the through-traffic doesn't have to stop, I've seen the fire department simply set up a virtual roadblock to bring traffic to a near-halt. However, I've only seen sports teams at those aforementioned four-way stops.

I'm not sure I ever saw it in Colorado, but I lived in cities there. And rural Colorado is kind of divided into places where the through traffic is going 75 and places where there isn't enough through traffic to bother with. I also lived in Indiana, but, once again, only in the city. This is, I think, a country phenomenon.