Kenny Waggoner, longtime leader in Dorchester County, dies

Kenny Waggoner

If you have to paddle into international waters to legally do your business and it doesn't involve separating fish from their family ties, it probably isn't a sound plan.

Sigh. Just when North Charleston was making such progress. Along comes an ill and desperately conceived casino boat scheme that might make dollars but not sense.

In sports, we call this throwing deep on fourth down.

Hey, that's a better idea! Football, I mean.

Baseball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, track, softball, basketball and swimming, too.

As the Post and Courier's Schuyler Kropf reported last month, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey appears to have City Council support for the first casino boat operation in the Lowcountry. The official launch announcement is expected soon. Maybe ESPN will interrupt one of its poker shows with live coverage.

There is no doubt that blackjack, video poker and slot machines collectively rival any sport as a national pastime. But instead of surrendering its civic image to a theoretically leak-proof casino or several, the good people of North Charleston should ask their city government to invest in the healthier, smarter and more lucrative business of youth sports.

There is decent money in the competitive world of hosting tournaments. The expanding travel league concept makes for year-round cash flow, which is a better deal than you get from any floating pit boss.

Swimming in profits

North Charleston, with its decades-long youth baseball tradition and well-known facilities, is a step ahead in the sports hosting game. The city already does a great job staging tournaments, including ice hockey.

All it takes now is a commitment toward true "destination" designation.

A p.r. campaign.

Sponsorships.

The Lowcountry's first top-notch aquatic center.

A state-of-the-art lacrosse complex to get in on the ground floor of the largest participant boom in the state.

A nice old-fashioned field house, complete with indoor track.

Presto!

North Charleston becomes the youth sports capital of the state, and drawing from other states. Restaurants and hotels will enjoy better business. Residents will benefit from the new and improved facilities.

Or politicians can put casino boats in the Cooper River along property that was the Charleston Naval Base. Yes, the North Charleston Blackjack Navy. I'm just glad Admiral Nimitz isn't alive to see this.

'Sleazy' vs. not

It's not like North Charleston can go full steam ahead with off-shore gambling while pursuing the sports thing. Pick the "adult fun" road and families will stay away.

"It's a sleazy business run by sleazy people," North Charleston City Councilwoman Phoebe Miller told Kropf, while also saying she plans to vote for the casino boat idea.

It only gets worse as the North Charleston Blackjack Navy gets more popular. More people in town who truly believe they can out-smart the casino boat.

Some of those people attracted to the sleazy business will want to move to North Charleston.

Some will want to have children.

There are so many good things about North Charleston, led by the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center.

An expanded commitment to sports is a nice complement to what is attractive about the city. And a high-percentage play, unlike the gamble that comes with throwing deep into deep water.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at gsapakoff@postandcourier.com or (843) 937-5593.