Budgetary showdown in Springville pits sports against art

Randyl Neilson / UVU Review

Remember Revenge of the Nerds? It was a timeless story of Jock versus Nerd­—a struggle as crimson and primeval as cat against dog, squid against whale or Whopper against Big Mac.

Superficially, the film was merely a 90-minute romp about scientifically-inclined underdogs standing up to persecution and harassment at the hands those meathead Alpha Betas, beneath a patina of panty-raiding, joint-smoking and effeminate, thoroughly-enunciated rapping. However, Revenge of the Nerds was really an allegory about the battle between defensive linemen and second-chair violists all over America for one thing and one thing only – funding.

Okay, so, maybe it was more about rights to exist and  or life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But in these United States, that means having some money to throw around.

The Future Physicists of America club will not have anything to talk about after school, since all the dough they’d set aside for gyroscopes and Newton’s cradles are now going toward helmet polish.

Anyone who grew up in the flyover states and played a reed instrument or had drama masks geeking up their letterman jacket bears the deep scars of the battle against sports programs for funding.

Football and basketball were always the Castor and Pollux descending upon the ungainly and the asthmatic, hogging all the money and forcing the band kids to spray another layer of Febreze on their marching uniforms, rather than get them properly dry-cleaned.

None of those smug jocks had to peddle candy in the hallways between classes, but by god, if the thespians didn’t unload every stinking one of those Snickers bars, we wouldn’t be able to patch up all those gaping holes in the stage.

Currently, the city of Springville is the battlefield where, once again, arts and sports are having it out for finances.

However, this showdown is a little bit different, because Springville is Art City – paintings of Jesus and community theater reign supreme. So, in a bizarre reversal of roles, 150 Springville residents crammed themselves into the city’s tiny council chambers last month and requested more accommodation for accelerated sports and more money in the recreation budget.
The group, who had organized themselves through fliers, e-mail, and texts argued that while they are proud of Springville’s artistic tradition, the fact that thousands of the city’s children are more active in sports than they are in the arts would indicate a need to at least split city funding evenly between arts programs and recreational activities.

Additionally, citizens made the point that the lack of accelerated sports in the city forces them to either satisfy their yen for physical competition with weak, “everyone’s a winner” kid leagues or venture out of Springville and spend their hard-earned money on fuel and food, in other cities where accelerated sports are more trenchant.

Springville city council does not seem opposed to the idea of providing for more recreation. However, finding the space to accommodate more recreation might be tricky. Currently, the Utah Valley Rays, an accelerated swim team, rents time from the Springville pool.

While the Rays offer residents a year-round opportunity to see competition from a higher-skilled set of athletes, finding the time to balance between the the Rays, local school teams, and the community.

The balancing act at the city pool is a prime example of the spirit being willing, but the space being limited.

According to city administrator Troy Fitzgerald, more recreation would mean more revenue for the city. However, finding the space for more recreational programs might be a bit of challenge, especially when even the residents requesting more recreation funding don’t want to negatively impact existing city programs.

The overall tone of the overflowing meeting last month indicated that, from the perspective of the city council, Springville’s art programs will not be threatened.

Meanwhile, Community Park, a $1-million project that will include multiple fields has gone out to bid, and will hopefully relieve some of the need for recreational space within the city.

Facility use reviews and budget talks will occur in the next couple of months, giving pro-recreation residents another chance to participate in the discussion.

For now, however, youth productions of Bye-Bye Birdie will remain safe and sound in Art City.