Now they're horsing around with Smarty Jones because the Eagles haven't started, the Flyers have crashed, the Sixers never got past the starting gate, and the Phillies? Pardon me as I yawn while the TV reporters talk about Thome's damaged thumb, Wagner's groin pull and the Padilla's DL for whatever.

Even when the cameras pan on Bowa's latest hysterics as he exits another game, the millionaires club holds little interest for this writer.

As often shared in this column, I enjoy reading about area youth leagues and school sports in the pages of "The Phoenix." where the athletes are praised for their performances and play sports for the joy of competition. Unfortunately, age and erosion has limited my attendance at area games. However, I still rely on our local reporters plus telephone messages to keep current with the action.

During this past Memorial Day weekend, I was reminded of one courageous group of athletes who seldom get any recognition. Those who do their part to fight the war against obesity by organizing and competing in a variety of sports held at family picnics should receive some ink.

Since we have entered the official outdoor season, these unsung heroes may be found at various sites. The most common ground is usually found in the backyard where the barbecue reigns supreme. However, the task of grilling and spilling hardly deserves to be classified as a rigorous outdoor sport.

No, I'm thinking of the clan who joins with extended family, friends and neighbors to journey to larger recreational sites such as an area county or state parks. Montgomery County Park in Green Lane is a perfect place to allow the weekend athlete to get basted, bruised and burnt. The site must be reserved by someone who lives in the county but then the reward is manifold. Softball, volleyball, and tennis are available for the more active. The experienced athletes mingle with the novices to make great camera shots for future blackmail. Most of us have witnessed the damage done to the third baseman who plays too close to home plate when a slugger comes to bat or the volleyball novice who keeps his hands too far apart when trying to block a 6-6 giant's smash at the net.

Use of a cell phone while standing close to this type of action is not recommended. Stray softballs, bats or volleyballs may find their errant path to the casual spectator. No the warranty does not include phone damage or broken teeth.

Canoeing and swimming are available after Memorial Day for those who choose Green Lane or a state park such as Marsh Creek or French Creek. The water in the pools is often quite cold this early in the season so only the serious swimmers normally take part.

However, those who choose to rent a canoe to get their exercise will find that the lake water is about 15 degrees colder than the pool.

The family expert will explain about the J-stroke, cross bow rudder and changing places safely in the canoe. Meanwhile the teens and youngsters, including the beginning swimmers, will quietly smirk during the lessons.

Warmed by the sun and past exercise, their thoughts are simply to upset the craft.

One experienced father ended the worry by using a questionable summary to his safety sermon.

"You aren't allowed to swim from the canoe in this lake (laughter from his audience). However, there was a recent drowning and the body was never recovered. When you look over the side and happened to see a face staring back at you, please let us know."

It was reported that never were several canoes paddled so carefully than that afternoon.

Fishing is another sport that seems safe on the surface but may be dangerous in the hands of the inexperienced. Casting from a boat may be an adventure for the crew as fish hooks caught in the anatomy are a painful price to pay for a small catch.

Children's games are another source of adventure whether played in the pool or on dry land. A scavenger hunt at a state park is a challenge for child and adult alike. Parents should be warned to bring plenty of extra dry clothes plus a medicine kit that has a large share of poison ivy remedy.

For the smart family, an early pilgrimage to the Phoenixville Area YMCA Baker Park complex is a great way to start the summer season. There is a variety of sports and activities run by the talented Y staff. Plus their famed snack bar beats dad's cooking on the Barby any day.

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