Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Four Football Helmets

Read an interesting article buried in the the Columbus Dispatch this morning. Being a high school sports guy, who cares some about the plight of college football, but cares almost nothing for pro sports, I found the Columbus School Board Meeting concerning high school football funding amusing.

The Columbus South High School football program had a large pre-season turnout last summer and needed an additional four football helmets to outfit all of the players. Coach Felix Catheline continued to ask for more football helmets, way into August. For some reason that request fell on deaf ears. Finally, he made the decision to let the four players practice in "non-contact drills," but with no helmets. Two players bumped into each other, one with a helmet and one without. The player without a helmet chipped a tooth. Somehow somebody found four helmets right after that.

I am sure that alot of "brown sugar," was spread around at this meeting. Equal funding was discussed. The $600,000 for high school sports is equally distributed among the schools. Of course, some schools take in more gate receipts than others, and extra money. Superintendent Gene Smith made the statement, "the way we fund sports makes sense." She went on to say, "I don't care how many helmets you don't have; come and stand on my desk and tell me you don't have a helmet, but don't let a child participate without a helmet." Now, hopefully, we all realize that a coach is not going to get all of the way to her office. I was in eduaction. Sounds good, but not realistic.

The board also discussed academic eligibilty requirements for athletes. The head of the district's athletic programs reported that over half of the district's students are excluded from sports by the mandate of needing a 2.0 GPA in the previous nine week grading period to play. At some schools more than three-fourths of the students cannot make the grade. Harris said that she could see both sides of the argument, but commented, "Two points, in my mind, is a pretty minimal standard."That is a 2.0GPA every grading period. I wonder if all educators do 2.0 work every nine weeks.

Over the years, I have watched inner city programs continue to improve and improve. Growing up "lily-white" and never having taught or coached in an inner-city school, I cannot relate to that envoirnment, but I work with inner-city football players state wide. I have the utmost respect for the players, and most coaches who coach them. I remember years ago telling Ty Howard (Briggs HS) to stop saying "sir" to me. That lasted for about five minutes. Ty went on to play defensive back at O-State and have a nice career. Sports help develop character. Of course, sports do not help everyone who plays the game, but I like the percentages.

I only know what I read in the Dispatch and do not know all of the facts with the "four helmets" and will not make time to do more research. My concern is that education is more than "regurgatating facts." Athletics can do much for a young man or woman. Just seems to me that educators are more concerned with higher academic standards than we are with totally educating young people. Having taught for 31 years and coached for many of those years, educating students is getting harder and harder. Sports can be a part of raising academic performance.

High school coaches who know me, realize I have a deep concern for inner city football. Love to go to Friday afternoon games in Cleveland. Love Shaker Heights at 2:00 on Saturdays. Love watching games at Welcome Stadium. Most of all, love working with inner city football players. Four football helmets caused concern in C-bus. But the inner-city problems, such as funding, eligibilty, and numbers go deeper than four football helmets. Inner city athletic programs are important.

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