Wednesday, May 25

WHEN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL BECOMES SOMETHING AKIN TO A RELIGION, SOMETHING IS VERY OUT OF WHACK

This past Sunday, I published a post on the building of multi-million dollar, Taj Mahal-style, high school football stadiums here in Texas -- stadiums and facilities that would make most NFL players feel right at home to play in and use. I called this trend toward mega-stadiums profoundly insane. These stadiums represent millions and millions of dollars better spent on classrooms, lecture halls, science and computer labs, and state-of-the-art libraries. Athletics has its value in the development of a teenager's body, mind, and character; but the stadiums, gymnasiums, ball parks, and athletic fields that served my generation are sufficient to serve this generation. And education must come first.

The "Houston Chronicle" published a well-thought editorial yesterday that similarly decries this trend:

... spending $20 million - $30 million on a football field for school kids erodes the argument that Texas schools are underfunded.

Even if school districts had all the money they needed, some of the new stadiums' features seem inimical to the spirit of the enterprise. Why should there be a VIP section, from which most parents and fans would be excluded? Who saw the need for separate locker rooms for offensive and defensive players?

If Texans refuse to dim or eclipse their Friday night lights, the taxpayers will have to spend that much more to provide basic education.
The student-athlete isn't the problem in this equation. It's the adults who are getting it all backwards -- those who push for these extravagances and those who know it is outlandish to do so, but keep quiet and acquiesce their role in sending the right messages to young people about where the priorities should be. Adults should know better.