Tate University - A large football stadium, with a college attached.
- 1925 movie "The Freshman"
The late Meg Greenfield wrote for "Newsweek," and her column "Growing Up in Kids' Country" highlighted our nation's fixation on sports. She made a valid argument. Each year our president calls the winning coach of the Super Bowl. Local television news devotes an entire segment to sports. During each weekend, daytime programs on main TV channels are devoted almost exclusively to sports. Every season offers sports of one kind or another. We learn details about all the dazzling players, and we are duly dazzled. Outstanding players in high school or college become locally famous, and those in professional sports become nationally renowned - and wealthy.
Someone said, "But, Dolly, sports is a business." That's true, but our taxes often fund school sports more generously than they fund academics.
Part owner of The Pilot, Frank Daniels III wrote the following: "The (article) that caught my attention was the analysis USA Today published on publicly funded Division I (Football Bowl Series) college athletics. It showed schools are spending as much as six times more money on an athlete than they spend to educate non-athlete students; and between 2005 and 2010, the period of the study, spending on athletics increased twice as fast as spending on academics."
Salaries of coaches, contrasted with salaries of professors, are more revealing. The most highly paid football coach makes more $5.5 million a year. The average salary of full-time professors at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is $232,396, the highest average in the country. More than 80 percent of the professors are researchers in the cancer center. Do these contrasting numbers indicate we place more priority on football games than on cancer research?
School sports are important, but they're not nearly as important as academics. With respect to recognizing winners in school, brawn has won the battle over brains, but it is our scholars who have made awe-inspiring academic touchdowns. They have knocked the ball out of the study-hall ballpark. They have sacrificed fun to work out in the mental-muscle weight room. They deserve at least the same level of recognition winning sports players receive.
Because I believe this, I have a story for you.
Despite the cold night, the bleachers were packed. Commencement was a once-in-a-lifetime event for the 2013 graduates of Ripley High School. After the valedictorian spoke, I heard several say he had made the best speech they had ever heard.