My dad usually reads Hall's column, too, and the last time I went over to see him, I had a copy of it to show him. He had already read it, but he reread out loud, and we both were on the floor rolling around laughing by the end of it. At a party, friends and I were talking about it, and when one guy's wife asked about it, he said, "You wouldn't have liked it; it had at least two separate references to pissing that I can recall." Again, I almost fell over laughing.
Kansas City, Missouri
First of all, I don't see it as particularly disturbing if high-school football coaches don't teach a class; most of the ones who do teach P.E. anyway -- as if P.E. is a real academic pursuit. If schools have the funds to hire someone just to coach football, more power to them.
Look, Greg, I see your main point -- that football and all athletics should be secondary to academics and mainly for fun at the high-school level. And I agree. But you don't give any sense of context about Van Buren -- what's its graduation rate? Does it have better or worse academic funding than other schools in the state? Does Jones make more than the teachers there? I think it's a serious stretch to suggest the school itself is "chok[ing] the good from something as simple as high-school football" because it has a nice practice facility, a big stadium and a nonteaching coach. If they're telling kids, "Win or we cut a finger off," that's "choking the good" from high-school football.
When I was a child, we had "traveling teams" in metro St. Louis. They were probably the forerunners of today's "select teams." Those teams, however, were very few in number. They were composed entirely of those who were truly gifted athletically.
Now it seems that half of youth sports is made up of these kind of teams. I often hear parents advocate "select sports" as the way to ensure their child an athletic scholarship and, therefore, a college education. The fact is that most of our children will not have the physical attributes and abilities to earn a scholarship to even a marginal institution. If parents instead invested each year the money they shell out for select sports, there would be a sizable amount available for education when their children reach college age.
My nine-year-old showed great promise at a position (goalie in soccer) where exceptional players are usually in high demand. We appreciated the opportunity for her to be part of an elite program, and she enjoyed the experience. But we (parents and child) chose to not pursue it.
This kind of program calls for a practice, a game or a tournament four days a week, forty weeks a year. It would have been like having a job at the age of nine.
I thought our society regarded the elimination of sweatshops and child labor as one of its great achievements. "Sports parents" need to ask themselves, "Is working from the age of eight or nine what we really want for our children?"