The Washington Nationals' plan for a baseball-related math program in the D.C. public schools has been put on hold until the team finds a corporate sponsor to help pay for the program.
Team officials had hoped to start the program this fall, but they acknowledged recently that they will not be able to develop the materials until the spring, at the earliest. The program could be delayed until next school year, said Barbra Silva, the Nationals' director of community relations.
"We're looking for a sponsor, and as soon as we get one, we'll be able to start working in the schools," Silva said. She declined to say how much a sponsor would be asked to pay.
The program would use baseball statistics to help students learn to work with numbers. Initially, the curriculum would be aimed at elementary students in the third grade and above who are familiar with multiplication and division, Silva said.
Many professional sports leagues and teams work with local schools. The National Basketball Association sponsors the Reading Is Fundamental program, the Washington Wizards sponsor Read to Achieve, and the Washington Capitals sponsor Reading Is Cool.
The Washington Redskins have two school-related programs: Redskins Read and Coaches in the Classroom, in which area student-athletes receive help with their studies.
The Nationals have pledged to join the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which operates Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, to help renovate youth recreational facilities and playing fields. The commission's first project, a renovation of Fort Greble Field in Southeast that included new sod, infield dirt, backstop and dugouts, is nearly completed. The $400,000 cost was funded by the commission and the Nationals' charitable foundation.
The Nationals also wanted to do something different and settled on math as an untapped area. Baseball's heavy use of statistics lends itself to that subject, Silva said.
She said the hectic ramp-up time for the Nationals after the team was moved from Montreal late last year made it difficult to begin all the community outreach programs she has planned.
This summer, several players, including infielders Jamie Carroll and Carlos Baerga, read to youths at D.C. library branches. And the Nationals helped sponsor the summer reading program in the Fairfax County libraries; the program's theme was "Become a Major League Reader."
Silva said the Nationals have not talked to D.C. school officials about the math program because they first intend to develop the specifics with a corporate sponsor.