December 01st, 2023
L&T Opinions Page

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, Starley Craig, Liberal


I made a few notes on Mr. Watt’s rebuttal to my letter on the hiring of a sports tourism director. Actually, my letter was more on out-of-control spending by commissioners in general. 

I did notice a couple of things in the article. The paper stated “sports tourism has nothing to do with high school or college sports. Absolutely nothing.” There was no mention of lower grades, but the wrier did say — twice — that he had “as a parent” attended events we could call sports tourism. I wonder if people could attend if they didn't have a child or other relative involved. Or had a job as a sports reporter.

I looked at the reported possible financial gain. We cannot assume the money spent in hotels or eateries trickles down here. Most likely mush of it goes to corporate headquarters as is Walmart’s marketing policy. We would keep the sales tax, but there is no actual solid financial information available. All the gains are guesses and estimates only.

Then I see, hidden in the vision of the riches, the word “if.” The paper asks, “Are there 15-plus events we could schedule in Liberal?” Then the next word is another “if.” “If” we have a neat rec center and some added gyms, why, of course! I sense an initial drive to spend another huge sum to provide the center gyms hiding in the bushes.

But apparently at one time, we hosted a summer MAYB basketball tournament for 80 teams for three days. How was that even possible without a rec center and some new gyms? When was this? How much did we make?

If seven out-of-town baseball teams are here for three days, according to the guesstimate from a university, that would have a $247,000 payday for Liberal. So if, by that figure, preceded by another “if,” is even close, 80 teams would be 10 times as much — $2,470,000.

All this is called weasel math. Not one figure of that is factual. Not one statement of revenue is more than a hopeful extrapolation.

I have requested, via the Open Information Act, a job description and the salary aid to the director of sports tourism. Apparently, that information is not readily available, but when I receive it, I’ll let you know.

Some years ago, a Liberal citizen scheduled an AMA sanctioned National three-wheeler race series. Every major manufacturer — Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda — and many privateers came, the factory ones in huge semis with pit crews. The citizen had made his own track, professionally done. This was a very big deal. We went. There were more people in the crews than spectators. Never came again.

It’s not that events are not offered, its that we, as people, are not inclined to go to events anymore.

I know there are people in town determined to have a rec center in spite of the fact that those who have tried to put one in have failed. It’s not just the enormous cost of refurbishing South Junior High and adding gyms, it’s also the cost of employees to man it, upkeep, liability, etc. We’re talking a million dollars. Bad deal!

Let’s just see how the first sports tour offer works out. No weasel math. No reports that “1,500 people came out” — out of town — unless absolutely documented. But put the rec center on a back burner and quit trying to sneak it in. Sprinkler system in South Junior High? Pooey.



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