There Are Not Two Sides To Every Story…There Are Only Facts
We live in a time where it’s common to hear, “there are two sides to every story.”
But this isn’t the case.
The story is built on facts, and facts alone. What happened? Who did what? Who said what?
The only thing that remains, is the comprehension, understanding, and acceptance of these facts, and how we react to them. What emotions did the events elicit?
Recently, a large online debate was sparked about the use of Lark Park in Chatham for a flag football organization.
What was presented, is that an individual was cutting the lawn of a Municipal park to operate a flag football league. That is a fact.
Could the Municipality have cut the lawn more? Probably. But unfortunately, that is an idea and a want, not a fact. If they weren’t keeping up with the committed to service level, this would then move into the fact category.
It was also presented that this individual, the organizer of the league, was handed a notice of trespass for his use of the park. Fact.
What was also presented was that somehow, this action was a necessity to provide flag football to youth, and that without this action, the Municipality would somehow be taking flag football from this organization.
This is not a fact.
The message has been very clear: flag football is welcome at Lark Park in Chatham, if safety rules, insurance, and fees are paid like all other organizations.
The facts are, that in recent years, this flag football group, which is a For Profit organization (aka, a business) has at times:
- Not reserved or booked the field
- Not paid fees for use of the field
- Not provided proof of insurance
- Not followed health guidelines related to COVID-19
- Caused an estimated $2000 in damage to the field, which was repaired using taxpayers money
- Received public complaints of alcohol use, smoking, public urination, littering, noise complaints for neighbours, and driving vehicles onto the public park grass.
How we use those facts is up to us.
With the support that has been shown, it’s clear there is a desire in the community for this flag football league, and the organizer himself has put uncountable hours into running this league. That commitment should be celebrated and praised.
But let’s get back to following the facts.
In 2019 and 2020, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent communicated with this flag football organization 90 times about the need to move into compliance with the above. 90 times.
During the 2019 event, a flag football tournament, which caused $2000 in damages to Lark Park, the group acted with no permit, no insurance, and without making a payment for their use of the park. Fact.
Not once has the flag football league been told they cannot operate. Fact.
The league has only been told it must correct the above, and stop cutting the lawn themselves.
To assist in the above, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent even agreed to provide a washroom facility and to increase grass cutting frequency, at the expense of taxpayers.
Since 2018, the flag football league has not paid $5197 worth of fees/costs, while the increase in costs of maintenance the Municipality has agreed to, including additional grass cutting and washrooms, cost more than $4000 in additional taxpayer dollars in 2019 alone.
What we also know, is that this league supports many youth. Which is wonderful.
According to the Under Armour – Under the Lights – Flag Football League website, the operator of this league can make roughly $40 off of each participant. This is based on a $160 registration fee, which this league charged in 2019.
In 2020, the A.L.L. For Kids program, run by the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, supported the league, as it does with others, by providing $2535 in funding for 13 youth to participate in this league.
We can present the story of a person cutting the grass in Lark Park in many ways, but the facts remain the facts.
What facts don’t tell us is how these events make a person, or people feel. It’s obvious from the public outcry, that some people feel the Municipality is out to stop a youth sports organization from operating, and that some people feel this person is doing the Municipality a favour.
These again are feelings and opinions, that don’t actually relate to the issue at hand, which is a factual issue.
The facts above show this organization is costing the Municipality money each year (as many sports organizations do), and that the Municipality is only requesting the same guidelines be followed as are followed by all soccer, baseball, football, and rugby organizations utilizing public fields and parks in Chatham-Kent.
There are not two sides to every story, there is only one story as told by the facts, unless we’re writing fiction, but this is real life.
As a local sports media outlet, we want nothing more than for this league to thrive.
Chatham-Kent youth deserve to have a flag football league to play in if they desire, and the popularity of this league at Lark Park is unquestioned. We also know fighting for access to Lark Park, and this group are hoping to present opportunities to youth who might not have other sporting opportunities, without the barrier of finances. This has been stated time and again by the organizer.
The facts above are also unquestioned.
For this story to come to an end, the facts need to be changed through action. And this does not mean media or social media campaigns, it means action to resolve the list of issues above.
It simply means reserving/booking the park, paying fees, repairing damages, providing insurance, and following provincial and municipal laws and by-laws.
We would want this for any sports organization.
How this gets resolved is the organization follows the rules. If the costs are insurmountable, then we as a community should find a way to help, perhaps the Municipality could find additional ways to financially support youth in this league, because this group of youth obviously love playing flag football, and as everyone agrees, no one wants this taken away.
Those are the facts, and since this is a non-fiction story, the facts are the only story.