EDITORIAL: A troubling lack of participation

The heat has arrived and with it, the season of festivals, sports championships and sundry summer events.

For anyone itching to do more than that ever-present housework, there are options.

But it seems a puzzling trend may be developing; one that counters the mantra of, if you build it, they will come.

It could be seen as recently as Sunday, during the semifinal game of the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship. Team Canada and Team Japan went head-to-head, with Japan ultimately emerging victorious.

Enthusiasts will remember how, in the heyday of the tournament’s predecessor, the Canada Cup, crowds would pack the outfield stands to take in such talent. These women are the best of the best in their field, after all.

But Sunday, while those who came out were without question true and appreciative fans, the turnout was simply not what it should have – or could have – been.

On the tournament’s heels, starting Friday, White Rock will welcome a deluge of cyclists for the annual Tour de White Rock.

Again, exceptional talent is coming to town. Historically, the crowds for these events have been strong. Whether they will inspire the same, turnout this year remains to be seen.

There may be many good reasons for diminishing crowds, though a lack of population growth in the area certainly isn’t one of them. Summer only lasts so long – and got off to a late start this year – and life, no question, is busier than it used to be.

Perhaps it is all connected to the ongoing theme of participation, or lack thereof. It seems that while the majority will support the idea of having events for the community to enjoy, few actually step up to help make them happen, or ensure that they continue.

Organizers of the Spirit of the Sea Festival – coming to White Rock’s waterfront Aug. 3-5 – are well-familiar with this phenomenon. With just three weeks to go before this year’s waterfront event, the volunteer count remains desperately low. Festival director Matt Todd estimates another 100 people are still needed to ensure a successful, safe weekend.

Hopefully, the numbers will be met, and those scrambling to make the festival happen won’t end the weekend completely burnt out.

And hopefully, things are not as they seem when it comes to participation as a whole.

It would be a sad day, indeed, for residents and visitors alike, if that were the case.

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