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Generosity scores Donors step up to the plate with a boost for school athletics

A bunch of young people with embryonic personalities, raging hormones and bodies that are stronger than they ever have been or ever will be again -- all that potential not only stands to go to waste when such people have too much time on their hands, it can become downright dangerous.

That's why the generous offer from the Buffalo Bisons baseball team and New Era Cap Co. to revitalize the baseball programs at 12 Buffalo School District high schools is a major step toward reviving athletics as something that's not just a game, but a character-building focus for what might otherwise occasionally become a troubling excess of youthful vigor.

It often seems that many American high schools spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on their athletic programs. But while sports can overwhelm a school's proper mission, they also can focus a lot of that youthful exuberance and channel much of that need to show off into organized experiences. Done properly, athletics not only teach the rules and skills of a particular game but also help form a young character into something cooperative and constructive, instead of letting youths fall into the temptation to become confrontational and destructive.

The Buffalo Public Schools have admittedly fallen well behind the curve on that score. Stretched budgets and numerous other demands have left the schools struggling to operate athletic programs with tiny gyms, few fields and insufficient equipment. The potential of sports to channel students' energies, give them a purpose and encourage them to remain in school fall far short of their potential here.

Into that void Monday stepped Bisons owners Bob and Mindy Rich and New Era, announcing that they will adopt the city's high school baseball teams, providing everything from caps and equipment to fields and coaching. That should go a long way to boost the teams' ability to attract and retain players from among their student bodies, keeping them focused, fit and in school.

The Bisons and New Era have not won the game for the schools' athletics programs. But they've definitely hit a home run.

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