This issue came to our attention when a local softball coach submitted a 30 page report about the disparities between baseball and softball facilities to the City of Lubbock. The Parks and Recreation department admits they've known for years Lubbock needs more and better softball fields.
However, they insist it's not gender bias that has prevented it from happening. Now, with six more baseball fields and no softball fields being proposed on the next bond election, some people aren't buying it.
"The girls' numbers are going up, and the boys' numbers are going down, but the city continues to build complexes for boys at an astonishing rate. My girls are getting leftovers." Cyndy's Hobson has two daughters who play in fast pitch softball leagues at MacKenzie Park. They complain of poor sanitation in the restrooms and at the concessions stand, not to mention poor player and fan accommodations. That's why a visit to Lubbock's brand new western little league field leaves them stunned. "I'm amazed, they have shade. Liners in the trash cans. And the bathrooms? There's no homeless people in them. They're clean. They don't smell," Cyndy says. "It's shocking. I would love to have this field," said Sarah Hobson, a softball player.
Actually Sarah says she'd settle for something half as nice. "The girls are getting less. We don't deserve less. Either someone in Parks and Recreation is not doing their job or city council is ignoring their advice and that's ridiculous," says Sarah.
Lubbock Parks and Recreation insists that not the case. It's the growing popularity of Lubbock's softball programs that are causing the playing field crunch. "Back in 1999, they pointed out we needed eight additional baseball fields and 12 additional softball fields, so this isn't something that just popped up on the radar screen," says Corbin Pemberton, of Lubbock Parks & Recreation.
Pemberton says Western Little League was chosen for a new complex because they were playing in an area the city felt was unsafe. However Softball Coach Jeff Baker wonders why the city's next bond election calls for six new baseball fields and zero new softball fields. "I think before any new baseball complexes are constructed, they need to build a new youth softball complex," says Baker.
Jeff says he's not asking for special treatment, just for equal treatment and Sarah Hobson wants the same, "Equality, that's all I want."
The city told us they'd like to see all sides of this issue come together and discuss a possible solution. One possibility they suggest is working out a way to schedule youth softball games at the Baker Huffman complex in northwest Lubbock. They says they will continue to defend the need for the new baseball fields that are being proposed.