On Centre: Around Philipsburg | District’s athletic fields need community support

When is sports about sports and when is it about more?

No, this isn’t a story about Penn State football. It’s about Philipsburg-Osceola football — and soccer and softball and track and more.

On Tuesday night, the P-O Education Foundation unveiled potential plans for a new complex of sports fields and facilities at the senior high. For some, the $4 million to $6 million projected price tag is cringe-worthy when there are still outstanding bills on the recently completed $20 million middle school project.

But, like the middle school, it is a project that won’t get cheaper by waiting. It also isn’t just an extra, an add-on that has no real student impact.

P-O’s softball team has been a perennial contender for the crown. But the fields those girls play on are built on dense, rocky fill and deemed “noncompliant.”

The soccer fields for the growing program have been called dangerous by the coach.

And Memorial Field, the home of the Mountie football team, sports a field house that visitors don’t want to use if they can avoid it. In fact, there aren’t even enough benches in them for players, who have to sit on the ground to rest between halves.

The foundation asked the board for direction this week, but the direction they really need is from the community. They need to know that there is support for kids who have played in poor conditions for more years than most people know.

They need to know that if they are going to build it, will people come, with checkbooks, to help? Will they show up with money to make the project happen? Because without that support, the school board might not be able to do it, either.

Student-athletes are not just athletes. They are students. They are our students — and our responsibility.