Friday, March 4

Rah Rah Rah

I'M busy shoveling shit, literally for a change, but mention should be made of yesterday's comments concerning high school athletics, especially as it gives me the chance to use something that pissed me off at the time, but I passed on as too parochial even for this blog. And, yes, I realize that's like Mike Huckabee keeping his mouth shut for fear of sounding too small-minded.

If you'd like to raise howls of protest in suburban public school districts--okay, one way among thousands--just opine in public that extramural athletics are a poor use of taxpayer dollars. You needn't bother suggesting they therefore be cut, or rated as a low priority, or even be placed on a list to be considered; just saying you don't think they should come before academics would be sufficient.

Meanwhile, if you'd prefer the sound of crickets chirping in those same suburban districts, just become superintendent of (60% African-American, 30% below poverty line) Indianapolis Public Schools in, oh, let's say 2008, and slash athletic programs because of budget restraints. Well, maybe not crickets; a few snow-pure individuals will probably share their opinion that kids in failing schools have better things to do, anyway.

At any rate, aside from some disgruntled IPS parents the whole thing went over without a peep. It got a little more attention when the actual superintendent, Eugene "Cufflinks" White--a man who got to college in the Jim Crow South because he could hoop--tried to create an Athletic Magnet school so talented athletes could attend a school that still had a program, the same way artists and musicians can still find one. However this, as, apparently, everyone but Eugene "Cufflinks" White realized, violated Indiana High School Athletics Association eligibility rules unless he declared the thing a religious school at the same time. I actually applaud the attempt, but it betrayed the same close attention to contractual detail Cufflinks has displayed in his decade of interaction with the teachers' union, state education law, and probably the Laws of Supply and Demand, Diminishing Return, and Finder's Keepers. At any rate, if you are a good, even a great quarterback, say, and an A+ student, but you happen to attend a school which has no football team, you are Shit Out of Luck. This according to the same IHSAA which destroyed the great Indiana state basketball tournament (see Hoosiers) by instituting class basketball so more small schools could get trophies, too. One could argue that the old white guys who make the rules are merely making sure that poor urban kids understand them, and aren't confused by the fact that if they'd been born in a flood plain, and got flooded, it would be a natural disaster, but if they were born in a ghetto it's their own goddam fault. Although, somehow, I suspect they already know.

Oh, hey, we're still rolling. This went by almost unnoticed by the local news, and certainly without anyone raising the fairness issue. But a couple months ago an IPS school's wrestling team missed a meet because the bus didn't show, and evidently not for the first time. This they're all over. For one thing the Assistant Coach twitterated or Facetimed his complaints, and the locals love the opportunity to show they're down with the latest technology. How could such a thing have happened? they demanded to know, in solidarity with some of the few remaining IPS students who didn't have their athletics program yanked out from under them while the teleprompters remained silent. Outrage!

And in case you're not ahead of me at this point, guess what: you have to schedule those things in advance (usually handled by the athletic director) and someone at the school had dropped the ball. IPS tried to rush a bus there once the mistake was realized, but it arrived too late. So it, essentially, was guilty of Having a Policy; the coach was guilty of letting a mistake happen for at least the second time without taking any preventative actions, then public blaming the people who weren't responsible for the problem, and the talking hairdos broadcast what was, and what they should have at least been suspected of being, essentially some guy complaining that someone else used the last sheet of copier paper without refilling it. YouTube at Eleven.


RobertB said...

A few school districts around here (Columbus metro area) have pay-to-play for extracurricular athletics. Something in the neighborhood of $100 per student per sport seems common. I don't see anything on the webpages for financial assistance, but I wouldn't be shocked if such a thing exists. It doesn't even begin to cover the costs of participation in some of the sports (football), but I guess it's there to make the yearly levy increase a little more palatable.

And my experience (with the crowd I work with) has been that if you offer the opinion that academics > athletics you won't get any argument but you might get looked at funny. This is mostly a 4-year college edumacated crowd though.

Anonymous said...

In schools all across the country, teachers are fired, classes are cut, out-of-date and moronic textbooks are used, supplies come out of the parents' pockets, and yet the sports programs mostly march on, though the kids are not participating as much anymore, what with the greater opportunity to play an afterschool video game without some mouth-breather coach yelling at them about their lack of manhood.
I was a high-school sports official - I was making good bread getting that same yelling directed at me while headlines would swirl about this or that cutback and 20% dropout rates in those very same benighted towns.
Okay, Doghouse, maybe the Great Recession has hit the hinterlands harder - a few less teams for the great unwashed. A good day-care and adult yelling program gone to waste - shame.
I liked your story - the class war and its enduring racist dimension is always a good read at breakfast.