Ending the Jock Talk

our priorities need re-adjustment when athletic programs dominate school funding talks

Steve Anderson

During the past few weeks we have read a great deal as to happenings in the sports world. Along with those, we are also reading continuously about the struggle schools of all sizes are having as they do their best to provide quality education to all students.

And while we all need a diversion or two from the serious issues we are facing today – from job losses, lack of quality health care, and more – in my humble opinion there is a disconnect from what we say are our values and what we value.

We have read about all the high school athletes having their “national signing day,” the Super Bowl hype, the aftermath of that game, and much more as it pertains to athletics. But perhaps I missed the “national signing day” for our outstanding science and math students or those who have received major scholarships to major universities to study medicine or to become the next outstanding educator or businessperson.

Will we have a parade for the person who discovers a cure for Alzheimer’s? Or a cure for cancer, perhaps? And how do we honor those educators who provide the learning opportunities for our children – the group we all profess is our future – through creative teaching and a willingness to work on behalf of each and every child to have them achieve at their highest level?

Is it not time to step back as adults, and while not demeaning the value of “extra” curricular activities, be willing to discuss just what the mission of our school systems is? Just what are those things we place the highest value upon – from academics to co-curricular to extra-curricular activities. Lets be honest about what we see put on the “cutting” board as money gets tight.

We all have a right to spend our discretionary dollars as we wish, but we must consider all the options in terms of cost and investment. For example, when a family of four takes a trip to a ball game and spends an evening away from home, the overall costs would easily reach $300. If that money were invested from 30,000 households in the Eau Claire School District it would be equal to approximately 82 cents per day and total $9 million.

Do some have the right to question why we continue to operate varsity athletic programs when at the same time discontinue academic field trips? Are we willing to pay for both?

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