There is an interesting conundrum facing communities these days, and that is how to get people up off the couch and out their front doors to participate in events and clubs and shows.
Increasingly large screen televisions, high definition programming, cutting edge video games and surround-sound music options have people staying home in increasing numbers.
Technology seems to be taking over as the primary entertainment for many.
It’s to the point that it even inundates what we do when we do venture out of the house.
We’ve all seen it. Someone sitting at a table, or at a game watching the action talking with friends and still busily texting away on their cellular telephones. If the batteries happens to die that person will go into near physical withdrawal, their connection to the world suddenly severed for a time.
Certainly the ability to talk to someone (or more likely text), or to search the Internet for some kernel of information on a whim from anywhere has its obvious allure.
The same can be said for home entertainment centres which are better than the movie theatres most of us grew up excited to get to, no matter what movie was playing.
However the increased quality and variety of in-home electronic entertainment is having a negative effect on the idea of community.
A community should be more than a collection of houses where people live in seeming isolation once they are off the clock at their places of employment.
There is a reason as a city our taxpayer dollars are used to build hockey arenas and swimming pools, disc golf courses and tennis courts, walking trails and parks, and that is for people to utilize them.
We read a lot these days about the need for increased physical fitness, and in Yorkton there are many options to help people do that.
But just having a park doesn’t mean people use it.
It’s the same when events are held.
The Yorkton Terriers have made it to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championship the past two seasons, and finished second in their Conference again this year, but the average crowd is not what it once was. Success usually means larger crowds, but that is no longer the case.
The same apathy saw concerts for Scott Stapp, lead singer for the highly successful band Creed, and Big Sugar cancelled because of low advance ticket sales.
In a community of 20,000, steel tip dart leagues at both the Royal Canadian Legion and ANAVETs attract about half the players of a decade ago when the city was smaller.
The same has happened to slo-pitch ball numbers, where numbers once warranted installing lights at the York Lake diamonds to facilitate all the games – lights that are rarely turned on these days.
A face-to-face chess club slipped away, although there are new efforts to resurrect the group.
So Yorkton has grown in recent years. We see that clearly in new business and housing starts, and in population numbers, yet it does not seem to boost numbers in a wide range of events and activities in the city.
Which brings us back to how we as a community get people away from in-home options in the easy chair?
If we don’t we will see more clubs fail, fewer concerts will book here, and the City may even reduce recreation investment if only a tiny minority use what already exist.
Participation is good for our health, and our community; we just need more people to recognize that.