When the Kids Sports News arrived in Larry Fredette’s mailbox earlier this month, the first thing he noticed was the address label. It read: “Alex Fredette,” specifically indicating that the newspaper was for his 8-year-old son.
Fredette, a youth baseball and basketball coach, said he likes the new monthly newspaper, which features young athletes’ pictures and coverage of their games, and isn’t concerned that his son is receiving it. However, he hopes youth sports leagues are cautious when deciding to release the names and addresses of players to businesses. He said it’s the first time he’s seen anything in the mail addressed only to Alex.
“It is a practice that I think should be carefully watched because they are children,” Fredette said.
When Alex registered with the Diamond Council Baseball League, which is operated through the Columbia Parks & Recreation Department, Larry did not see a warning that his son’s name might be released. There was no box to check to give the league consent to do so.
“In society, it is one of those things we have to be careful about,” he said.
Kids Sports News Publisher Jeff Corder obtained the addresses from three leagues run by Parks & Recreation — baseball, soccer and basketball. Diamond Council Executive Director Debbie Jameson said the names were not turned over without serious consideration. She said Corder had to seek approval from the council’s 20-member board before he could even see the names of the organization’s 1,500 players.
Charles Neville, former president of Columbia’s Youth Basketball Association, said a board member who knew Corder mentioned the newspaper at a meeting. He said the league rarely releases its 1,000 players’ addresses to advertisers or companies.
“If we don’t know the people who ask, we automatically say ‘no,’ ” Neville said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
The youth sports leagues are paying Corder to send the newspaper because it includes league registration forms and newsletters and because it advertises and covers their games. It will be easier to communicate with the players through the paper, Jameson said. Corder did not pay for the list of names, and he has a legal agreement preventing him from forwarding the names to another organization or business.
“We pay them to send this to people on our mailing list,” Jameson said. “They are doing us a service and we feel we are doing a service for our customers.”
Neville said although many groups try, each needs the basketball association’s board of directors’ approval to obtain lists of players’ addresses. The board handles each request on a case-by-case basis.
Jameson said she accepts fliers and coupons from restaurants and companies in the area but distributes them to the players herself rather than mailing them. She said the newspaper provides ways for kids to have their pictures or articles published after a sporting event. That is one reason why the Diamond Council decided to give the names to Corder. The newspaper is also available for 75 cents at several grocery stores, Corder said. The money from single-issue sales goes to a different charity each month.
Kids Sports News started in Kansas City in 2003, but Corder said when he saw the variety and growth of youth sports in Columbia, he wanted to create another edition. Many of the articles, he said, are written by players or by high school journalism students.
“Half of the articles are geared toward parents and half are geared toward kids,” Corder said.
Each month, kids from 6 to 18 years old prepare feature stories for the newspaper about their games and professional teams. They can also submit their own pictures.
“We’ll publish what our readers want to see,” Corder said.