Football agreements with neighboring cities win support of crowd in DurhamBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
January 10. 2018 9:08PM
DURHAM — Even the man most against a football program at Oyster River High School stood up during a public forum Wednesday night and said he could support a cooperative agreement with Dover or Portsmouth.
Athletic Director Andy Lathrop has been working on an agreement with either Dover or Portsmouth. He said it would cost taxpayers no money and cater to about 80 children who participate in the local youth team during middle school.
Jeffrey Butts of Lee, who runs the football program at Oyster River Youth Association, said Wednesday he compares playing football to driving a car.
Butts said parents have a choice about whether their children get a driver’s license. He wants parents to be able to have the same kind of choice about football.
“Will the community of Oyster River allow the parents to decide what is in the best interest of their own children?” Butts said.
Krista Butts, Jeff’s wife, said her son and 12 other students in the eighth grade want to play the game they love and are planning to leave the district if an agreement isn’t reached.
She asked people in the crowd to stand if they support a cooperative agreement. All but seven of approximately 80 people at the meeting stood.
Durham resident Bill Hall said he played football as a young man.
“It was one of the best experiences I had,” Hall said.
“I believe with the helmets they have now, and the coaching they have now, I don’t think it’s an issue,” Hall said of safety concerns.
Bob Barth, a doctor from Lee, has raised concerns about concussions and has repeatedly stated he is against starting a team at the high school. But Barth said the proposed agreements could be the right decision for the community.
During a presentation before an open forum, Lathrop said both Dover and Portsmouth are willing to commit to a long-term agreement.
Parents and booster clubs would be responsible for the costs and transportation. Lathrop said it would cost $460 per player if an agreement is reached with Dover.
It could cost between $500 and $600 per player in Portsmouth.
Superintendent James Morse said at the beginning of the forum that the school board will take action on the potential agreements during its Jan. 17 meeting.