When girl’s recreational softball at the Plano Sports Authority (PSA) plummeted in participation to 300 girls this Fall, the unlit, broken scoreboards stood as towering talismans of failure.
The broken scoreboards are symbolic of the recreational softball program in Plano. They were built years ago, as a sign of hope and commitment. They were, in fact, a labor of love from a PSA Softball board member of the past. They were to have stood as a legacy.
But no one kept them up. No one invested in them. Other leagues have sprung up in the PSAs’ place – offering better programs, better support, and better competition. Local Plano rec teams are packing their bags and going elsewhere. Or worse, recreational players are giving up on the game.
PSA, the indoor goliath of Plano and neighboring cities, continues to seem confounded by the exodus of players. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better without serious investment and complete league overhaul.
The short history goes like this: Before the mega-indoor facilities of the PSA were built, softball had thousands of recreational players in Plano. One City estimate shows over 3000 players. But times changed, and the real money was in indoor sports. PSA priorities changed. Fast-forward to 2019, with 300 players left for Fall softball in a city of over 280,000 residents.
We have a generation of coaches who grew up playing softball in Plano with the PSA. Where will you find them? In other recreational City leagues playing with real rules, functioning scoreboards, practice times, concessions and consistent schedules. They’re simply not afraid to have a competitive rec league; whereas the PSA touts rec softball specifically – and exclusively – as its only non-competitive sport. It strikes me as if fast pitch softball players aren’t considered athletes at the PSA.
Fast pitch softball in 2020, is not the softball of 1970. I mention that because it seems the PSA Board is stuck in the past. A Pre-Title IX past. A pre-Jennie Finch and select-softball-explosion past. The demand is there. A few of us have met with the PSA recently, and offered a real plan that includes a simple parity of rules, investment, game schedules and practices like they offer for their other sports. It’s not radical, but it is designed to fix what is truly broken in the PSA softball game. Can you imagine a basketball game without a scoreboard and game clock? Can you imagine a volleyball game that allows extra players on the court for each team? Welcome to your current PSA fast pitch softball experience.
One last request-
Bring the scoreboards back to life. And watch the girls fast pitch softball leagues in Plano do the same.