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Sunday, February 27, 2005

High School athletics

Posted by: Hammer / 10:10 PM

It's hard to imagine any person I genuinely admire complaining about high school. As Bruce McCulloch singed/sang/spoke: "We all make it through life, scathed and unscathed." He loved all his love in high school, so I can't admire him too much.

High school, as an institution, glorifies the meaningless. If not the ephemeral, certainly the fleeting. You crown the prettiest, rally around the hard-hittingest, and marginalize the contributing-to-advancement-of-society-est.

I've got this feeling that Alan Cumming (imdb for the baser Teutons), who has contributed a certain flair along with a certain eponymous fragrance, engenders a common response among the boys he once shared a locker room with: "That guy's a movie star slash men's personal care magnate? He's a fruit!"

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Alan Cumming was celebrated in high school for the very differences which make him a successful entertainer. But my own personal scathing makes me doubt it.

At any rate, Doug Grow wrote in his Sunday column:

The most drastic call for change is coming from Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, and Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville. They're pushing a bill that would toss interscholastic sports out of the schools and into the state's park and recreation programs.

"We're laying off teachers, nurses and counselors, but we never touch the hair on the heads of the football team. It's time for some serious discussion about our priorities," Greiling said.

While that doomed trial balloon is being floated, Rep. Karen Klinzing, R-Woodbury, has a bill making it easier for charter-school students to participate in sports at traditional schools.

It's probably unpopular, but 3WN agrees with Greiling. Let's get the sports out of schools. Let's have sports, mind you: without high-school level sports, there'd be no Mike Wilkinson to lead the Badgers to more victories than any other player in the program's history. But they don't need to be part of the school system. Little league baseball, at least where Hammer's from, wasn't part of the middle school curriculum. It wasn't until age 13 or 14 that you started playing baseball through the school at all. Is there a compelling reason for sports to be included in high school? To demand pep rallies? Is it revenue-neutral?

I'm not enough of a student of the system to know whether high school football is revenue neutral, but I'm betting it ain't. Until it is, let the kids play in club teams and let the school districts spend the money on a few extra copies of Where the Sidewalk Ends.


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