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For many schools it’s athletics over academics

Out on a Limb
Ross L. Talbott
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I am going to be treading on what some of you consider holy ground. Criticizing government schools has become unacceptable. It is said that the ones who create the problem are incapable of solving it. Generally, they will not even admit there is a problem.

In today’s government schools, the area dedicated to athletics is far larger than that which is dedicated to academics. Walk into any of today’s schools, and the featured things are team names and cases of trophies. Athletics has become the tail wagging the dog.

In high school, my friend Harold said, “I’m going out for basketball because I’m rather awkward and it will do me some good.” The coach refused him and told him he would never make the team. He was crushed. That’s the first time I realized the whole thing was about winning, not helping students. In fact, the coach could only keep his job if he produced winning teams.



Years later when I was on the school board, the debate team came back from state competition with some good awards. These awards were presented in a school assembly. The students booed and the teachers laughed.

Along came title IX, which mandated equal athletics for girls, so we added more coaches, busses and sports.



If you want to be king of the “Snowball” or whatever, you must be a lettered athlete.

Ask yourself how many professional athletes came out of your high school.

If the educational system is to help young people earn a living, than the money spent on sports is the poorest educational money we spend.

Athletics should be a part of the educational system, but in today’s schools it dominates the social system and wastes large amounts of taxpayers’ dollars.

Consider the cost of busses, the cost of fuel, insurance, the staff salaries and the supplies. We used to figure it cost $800 to outfit a football player, and today it is probably double that.

Football is probably the one sport I would eliminate, considering the cost, the injury rate and the rather primitive nature of the sport. Defenders claim that it teaches teamwork. It is obvious to me that it teaches success comes from deception and brute strength.

Probably the best athletic events for the educational system are track and field. There is some kind of event for all body types; from shot put to pole vaulting, and either gender can participate.

Winning should be secondary to the physical development of the students. Timing, agility, endurance and physical health should be the major focus. Reward improvement rather than winning.

A good way to scale it back would be to go to intramural competition. Get the busses off the road. Give the kids more family time. Cut the tax burden to people and focus on helping all students grow.

Get the kids’ focus back on learning lifetime skills and off worshipping sports idols.

We as taxpayers are being forced to spend more and more money on the government school system, but it is not raising test scores. Could it be that the athletic department is the sponge?

When planning the Coal Ridge High School, the architect got up and described the layout. He said here is the gym and here is the auxiliary gym, and the locker rooms, and the weight room and the football field and the practice field and the track field and the future natatorium. We have run out of room, so the classrooms will need to be two stories.

Could it be we have our priorities out of whack? Two to four pages of sports coverage in every newspaper, and seldom a word about academic achievement.

I believe the solution would be to give the schools back to the parents.

How about let us give every legitimate American citizen a voucher for twelve years of school that could be used in any school of their choice at any time in their lifetime.

Any system is best when there is competition.

Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.


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