KWL Using Child Labor! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ryan Winfield   
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 17:12

The Grass Is Always Longer On The Other Side by Ryan Winfield 6/21/2011
Volunteer Shortage Leads To Drastic Measures For The KWL

John Calvin, the idealist who laid out the framework for the religious movement of Calvinism way back in the 1500’s, once stated “There is not one blade of grass in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” Well lately the player ranks among the Kalamazoo Wiffle League have begged to differ with Calvin, as the playing fields of Flesher and Township Parks have seen some lengthy turf on multiple occasions this summer, having a direct effect on the outcome of some games.

In Week 5 of the season, the Friars and Townhall Posse arrived to Township ready and excited to experience the recent upgrades of the field. That excitement quickly turned to frustration as hard hit line drives often failed to even reach the outfield while being caught up in the shin-high grass. A few balls were scorched off of Friars starter Andy Ross, yet barely made it past the mound, as the Posse could only muster 6 total hits off of Friars pitching for the series.  The same could be said for the Week 4 matchup between The Scared Hitless and Kentucky Waterfalls, as the comeback rally for Hitless against Ryan Davis fell short, literally and figuratively, as a result of lengthy turf leading to easy infield plays.

So what is the cause of this often frustrating dilemma? Towards the beginning of the season, the KWL experienced its worst playing conditions in years due to a very rainy (sometimes hail-y and tornado-y) spring.

Games were frequently delayed and rescheduled as the sun refused to shine on the league. Not only did the rain effect the maintenance schedule, but also caused the grass to grow unusually rapid for being so early in the year. Busier work schedules for those in charge of league maintenance also had a negative effect on the fields as the league created a volunteer schedule (found here) that asks the players for any help they can afford through the season. Although the commissioner has offered to provide the equipment necessary to perform field maintenance for anyone who needs it, as of the publishing of this story, no one has signed up for action.

 The combination of these factors has forced the league to consider some radical solutions. Some players question why an outside landscaping company couldn’t be hired to mow the fields once a week, but due to the recent economic downturn, this option would prove too costly. Even the area’s population of illegal immigrants is out of the pay scale that the KWL has to offer, which has forced the league to an even more illegitimate solution: child labor.

Apparently the Kalamazoo Wiffle League has no reservations about being labeled the “Nike” of American wiffle leagues, putting children as young as the age of 3 years old in the way of danger, paying them pennies on the dollar

to operate chalk liners, weed wackers, and even 25 horsepower riding lawnmowers. League management even refused the worker’s request for a mid-shift nap break, only allotting them a 10 minute rest period per every 4 hours worked. This is barely enough time to slam a Squeeze-It and devour a Lunchable before its back to the landscaping.  City officials have even looked the other way, choosing to reap the benefits of free park maintenance over enforcing child labor laws. Both city and KWL officials refused repeated demands for an interview for this story.

The moral integrity of the league has never been questioned as it is now. People are used to seeing stories of children in sweatshops in places like China and India, but the forced labor of children within our own city is too close to home. Great American author Washington Irving once stated “Society is like a lawn where every roughness is smoothed.” If Irving were around to see the lawns of the KWL today, he may not have such an optimistic view of society. 

Last Updated on Monday, 27 June 2011 15:17
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