November 21, 2009

"I cot an inturseption and scored a tuchdown!"

The folks in Massillon, Ohio, love their high school football team. In fact, they love them more than academics. Their football team practices inside a $3 million indoor practice facility. Their coaches, players, families, and citizens live for their high school football team.

Their academics? Well, who needs academics when you have high school football?

It turns out that they aren’t willing to shell out $1,200 to start a Spanish club or French club. After all, that’s $1,200 that can go for two or three more football helmets.

What was also interesting with this story was the comments under it. One supportive comment didn’t once mention academic accomplishments from the students. It does mention the “community service, religious growth and selfless service” of the team members, but that only goes so far. It only goes as far as the community.

This fan of Ohio high school football doesn’t really mention any academic performance from the community’s students. I was also amused to see that she didn’t capitalize her own name.

This reader discovered that Washington High’s academic rating gets a 3-out-of-10 stars. Those “extracariqulars” are going to help them out in life, no doubt.

This story sort of hits home for me because I live in a small town where high school sports and cheerleading has unfortunately trumped intellectual accomplishment. It’s gone so far that a few years ago a group of guys who like to sit around and talk about “the good old days” decided to start a town sports hall of fame, in which they give out awards for former athletic standouts.

Not to take away from the recipients of these awards, but our town is so small that when you begin seeing Joe Shmoe or Jane Doe from down the block getting the awards on a monthly basis, it begins to take the value away from the award.

That is, of course, to those of us who have moved on from high school. For many people, life stops at high school.

I just hope that these same people don’t complain when other countries kick our ass in the global economy. Countries like China, Japan, and Russia don’t give a shit if America has great high school football teams. That’s not to mention that you don’t win your way up the economic ladder by winning on the gridiron.

Pesca, Mike. “In Massillon, High School Football is ‘Who We Are.’” NPR. 20 Nov. 2009.


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