Springfield — Last year, Springfield Public Schools (SPP) partnered with Bushnell University on a $3 million investment to provide a renovated, upgraded facility for both of their baseball programs. The Millers baseball team plays primarily on the complex’s non-turf field, while Bushnell gets priority on the adjacent 2,000 seat stadium located next to it, a reasonable arrangement for such a colossal project and partnership. However, back at the high school, the girls are left with crumbs and bare bone basics to sit in the shadows with as their male counterparts receive the royal treatment over at Hamlin Middle School.
Inside the newly renovated baseball facility, you will find splendid professional style dugouts, a massive seating area, shiny new bullpens, and just about everything you can ask for with a baseball program: Hitting cage, field tarp, quality maintenance equipment, not to mention the beautiful outfield scenery that is complete with landscaping, personalizes scoreboard, and stadium lights. Outside of being a full turf field, it is just about perfect for any baseball program to want to play in. As an added bonus, the field is less than a mile from the high school, making it an easy trip for practice and games.
Take a trip down Centennial Blvd and turn onto 10th street, and you will find the home of Springfield softball located across from their football stadium. When you walk up to the field, it not only pales in comparison to baseball, but it looks like a complete slap in the face to their softball program. You will find a field that looks like maintenance hasn’t touched since the end of the season, an outfield grass that is slowly dying even with our plentiful spring of rain, wood dugouts that provide the bare basics of gameday storage, and a rusty trio of seating arrangements around the backstop. To top it off, their “concessions” consists of what resembles a lemonade stand in my neighbor’s front yard. Unlike baseball, there are no bullpens, tarp, professionally designed dugouts, no hint of any level of investment or care from a district that helped sink millions into their peer’s baseball program.
It is worth noting that softball and baseball both have turf facilities as backups in rainy conditions, but they don’t serve as their primary facilities, thus they aren’t the primary factors to be brought up in a Title IX consideration. There aren’t any major differences in the success of the programs: Both of them struggle and have faced uphill battles to finding success. Even a remote argument that SPP could try and pull of rewarding a successful program doesn’t hold merit, and it makes a neutral observer wonder if the district ever considered Title IX ramifications. This situation is one of the more blatant examples of discrimination, a surely slam dunk Title IX complaint to succeed with. However, the fact that SPP managed to get to this point doesn’t lessen the sting of the situation any less, even in equity is managed to be achieved in the end game.