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Lee: Athletics an integral part of education

Thu., Sept. 8, 2011

We had a nice conversation about pay-to-play concepts for high school athletics on SportsLink last week.

I’ve come to one conclusion. This is why activities, especially athletics, should never be taken out of our schools: A bond levy would rarely be passed.

The reason bond levies are passed most of the time is because of parents of athletes. Plain and simple. Why are big donations made to schools? Because of parents of athletes.

So the suggestion that athletics should be taken out of schools is ridiculous. If you think people are apathetic when it comes to voting for levies now, what do you imagine would happen if a school district needed to pass a levy to, say, buy new buses or textbooks? Few would vote.

I’m not saying schools should exist exclusively for athletics. Not even close. But athletics are as important to education as algebra.

In an ideal world, athletics would be funded through taxes. In today’s world, though, that’s not logical, prompting the need for override levies in many districts. Still, in some form, taxpayers should shoulder the burden of all things educational, including athletics.

I know this is isolated and quite rare, but I know of some booster clubs that have been asked to help fund a sport with everything, including paying a coach’s salary. That’s wrong.

I support the theory of pay to play. Whether it’s being a part of a school chess club or playing football, the participant should pay some nominal fee to participate. Emphasis on nominal and not prohibitive.

Pay to play in theory can’t be avoided today. Pay to play is vital when it comes to districts having to consider cutbacks.

So those are my thoughts. Not everyone agrees. The Seer commented often on the topic on Sportslink.

“I would favor the elimination of all interscholastic athletic programs at all public schools,” he said. “They are a major drain on resources and a major distraction in the classroom. Our schools are for educating children to become productive adults, not a farm system for college athletics that most athletes never will realize. We need to look at the models of nations that are outperforming the U.S. in education.”

The Seer revealed in later comments that he was a boxer and athlete in school. I know he’s probably heard this statistic, but athletes generally outperform non-athletes in every school. Look it up.

Al Loysius pointed out that the challenge in the pay-to-play format is making sure that if a student can’t afford to pay that a way is made for him or her to still play. I support that wholeheartedly.

I liked the point Hoopster made.

“When we don’t have enough money to pay for sports for our kids but we have enough money to fight three wars … dumb,” he said. “If the sports go the students will go.”

Shaun was peeved by what The Seer shared.

“Casting high school athletics as a farm system to college is a gross misstatement of what high school athletics are,” he said. “What percentage of the Tekoa-Oakesdale or Riverside athletes wind up playing sports in college? Heck, what percentage of athletes at a big-school “power” like Gonzaga Prep or Ferris competes athletically in college? Teaching kids to work hard (physically) and overcome adversity are lessons that carry on long after the cleats and sneakers have been put away.”

There were other superb comments. Check them out at spokesman.com/sports.


 

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