Boxing Vs. Education

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Two Factions Fight Over Wardman Park Building

Council member Scott Matas is dedicated to bringing youth boxing to city instead of job training and education programs.

Tibor Végh / Vecsési Területi Bajnokság

Council member Scott Matas is dedicated to bringing youth boxing to city instead of job training and education programs.

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – While months wear on with a city building sitting empty, a debate rages between two opposing factions inside the city over how to best use the building. The debate finds one councilman struggling to bring vocational job training to the city and another that thinks youth boxing is the best focus of city efforts.

Boxing is seen by Councilman Scott Matas as providing self-discipline and a way to get kids off the street. Councilman Adam Sanchez would like the city focus it efforts on jobs and put the building to use for vocational job training in disciplines like HVAC (air conditioning and heating) repair and service and computer training for office jobs.

Others stepping into the debate have taken a critical view of boxing, citing the American Pediatric Association that has recommended parents not allow their children to participate in a sport that focuses on blows to the head and face. The worry is over long-term effects of repeated concussions common in every form of boxing.

The debate that has carried on through several council meetings over many months and again surfaced at Tuesday’s council meeting when the chair persons of three city commissions delivered a report to the city council on the best use of the building. The council had earlier given the commissioners the mission to study the problem and report back.

Their report cited the American Pediatrics Association position against youth boxing and the commissioners took the extra step to include in the report a position paper of the APA that detailed the health impacts of repeated concussions to the brain caused by youth boxing.

The building at the center of the debate is a former Boys and Girls club facility at Wardman Park vacated since the beginning of the year when the club moved into a new facility.

While the commissioner’s report seemed to take an unfavorable view of boxing, the report did not answer the question of whether the facility should be used for sports or for job training. It actually recommended to the city council that both be considered. And it said the issue needed to be studied further.

The Bigger Issue

The city’s lacks of sufficient recreational facilities violates the state’s Quimby Act which mandates a minimum amount of recreational parks for the population. No grants for additional recreational parks can be secured so long as the city has no Master Park Plan. The city has never approved a Master Park Plan for which every city council has dragged their feet. Pleas from citizens to build new recreational parks have been ignored by city councils continuing to approve spending city money elsewhere instead of dirt and grass.

This particular building at Wardman Park adds to the contentious situation by arguing over what little recreational facilities there are.

Bang My Head

For the last several months Councilman Matas has been fighting for the boxing club concept opposing the consideration from The Center for Employment Training to set up a federally funded learning facility in the Wardman Park building. Outspoken support for CET and educational programs by council member Adam Sanchez was insufficient as city staff cold shouldered the CET representative, leaving her to abandon interest.

The city council stepped forward to referee the situation that threatened to come unglued. It was an unprecedented move with three commissions meeting at one time with the Planning Commission, the Public Safety Commission and the Cultural Affairs Commission, leaving them flummoxed and unable to make a unified recommendation.

It was a low blow when city staff reported this intransigence as support for the boxing club.

When that was exposed as inaccurate the matter was sent back to the commissions for another look-see, hopefully to find a resolution. Instead the three commissions simply handed the matter back to the city council.

Education advocates such as council members Adam Sanchez and Russell Betts are now expressing hope for a group named Smooth Transitions to be welcomed to the city and to bring much needed job training as well as advocacy for youth education and increasing literacy to the city.

“Education, you just can’t put that aside,” Sanchez said. “If we had more kids in this community that graduated from high school and were productive we would possibly have a lower crime rate in this town.”

Boxing Enthusiast

“The building is located in a park and that is why it should be used for recreation,” Scott Matas said after just minutes previously endorsing a different educational program at a different city park. After his voting to approve use of the building at Todesco Park for an educational program the councilman rationalized that any educational program’s use of the building located at Wardman Park was inappropriate.

Mayor Pro Tem Scott Matas, who boasts of his highest educational accomplishment being the title of valedictorian for a high school graduating class of five students, dismissed the urgent need for education and job training, instead expressing optimism that pugilism is more needed by wayward youth and a solution for crime.

“I’ve been an advocate for a boxing facility,” said Matas. “We’ve stated the positive; we’ve talked about education, which is important, but this building use needs to be for recreational purposes. I believe boxing is a tool to get kids off the streets.”

Mayor Yvonne Parks added nothing to the discussion, while council member Jan Pye spoke of buildings that might possibly become available in a year or two. The city council turned the matter over to city employees to look at the recommendations and report back to the city council in 30 days.

Scott Matas Central

7 thoughts on “Boxing Vs. Education

  1. I like the idea of a boxing club in Wardman Park. Kids that like to hit
    are going to do it anyway on their friends at school and at home,
    especially in instances where they have no discipline, so to have a
    center dedicated for a more controlled activity/outlet is awesome as it
    diverts their energy to that, gives them goals, something to
    look forward to, while teaching the element of respect, challenge, keen attention, and sportsmanship.

    If council had been prudent, that “employment center” they want there
    could instead have gone in the Guy Tedesco park community center instead of
    having given a 3 year lease for $1 per year to that psychologist that’s
    going to now freely use it for a “linguistics center” which when I saw that insane decision 5-0 FOR, I thought “when did schools stop teaching kids to read that a city would feel obligated to give the city office space away for free, when the council meeting prior they wrestled with fees for that very center and came up with a fair plan to recoup costs?”

    Only 2 weeks later they then give it away for free, not recouping costs. Why do they even bother discussing these issues? Council obviously fell over themselves with the presentation, in typical theme of Tresed Hot Springs, all it takes is “oh it’s for the children” and puppy dog eyes, much like what was done when the wellness festival promoter gave his spiel and the Palmwood Developer gave his, and on and on, etc. etc.

    And where’s that Police station annex?? I remember council wind blowing that familiar breeze of “public safety” being installed in those offices. Is it there or did someone leave the door open again and it blew away?

  2. Desert Hot Springs already has an inner city stigma. Boxing is an example of a failed inner city solution. Boxing as a social program has never worked in a ghetto and it won’t work in Desert Hot Springs. A rising tide lifts boats. What Desert Hot Springs needs is a city council that understands Republican principles of success and applies them. Boxing as a social solution defies all evidence everywhere it has been tried.

  3. Palm Springs has boxing. I don’t see that program ruining their stigma any more than the windmills have ruined their tourism, nor is their boxing program harming their social solutions, it’s working out great there as it does everywhere. What about baseball, soccer, football, chess, and two old men fighting over crossword puzzles, cards, Tae Kwan Do, and car racing, dinners and a movie where reviews are discussed and argued about, are those failed social solutions? There is absolutely no stigma problem, there is only a solution of providing legal activities to divert youth from illegal activities. Boxing occurs in nature. Stags that lock antlers, bugs fight with other bugs, everything in animal kingdom boxes, as well as people and butterflies are into boxing. Council members do it every meeting! It’s a sport, a release of tension, confidence builder, a point of focus, and a great addition to any city. If you have a problem with boxing please discuss this with God.

  4. Palm Springs does hot have an inner city image so boxing does not add to its problem. Big difference between Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs. Boxing has not been billed as a sport in Desert Hot Springs as O.Boxman is portraying it. It is being billed as a way to deal with gangs, ie, inner city youth. O.Boxman makes an understandable point just not for Desert Hot Springs. We have enough of a bad image. That’s what I think.

  5. Boxing dates back 59 688 B.C. Greece and it’s Olympics. Picking and choosing what sports can come in and for what reason is not serving a diverse community. The city is obligated to serve all members of the community including those who are in the category of “creating an image problem”. A boxing club is a well proven strategy for helping solve gang problems and violence, which then starts the process of changing that image that is claimed to be such a high priority.

  6. So, instead of giving this community an opportunity to learn a job skill and better their chances at earning a decent living, taking care of their families and paying taxes, we’re going to teach them to become better at being physically aggressive? That’s a skill DHS already has. Boxing may teach discipline, but only a very small percentage will be able to feed their families and provide a roof with it.
    Come election time, lets keep a core of Betts and Sanchez and rebuild from there. They are the only two that seem to actually care about the people of DHS.

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