For God's Sake, Don't Cut The Football Team! & Other Stories From Budgetpocalypse

Earlier today, I blogged about a (an?) "historic" pay "freeze" for an Ohio school district which could only be historic if in fact history has ended once and for all. The freeze, part of a two-year contract, doesn't stop "step increases" that cover a whopping 68 percent of the school's teachers. Overall, the district is facing a $10 million deficit in 2012 on a budget that is currently $235 million; over the past two years they cashiered 52 teachers out of well over 1,000. Now the school district is warning all who will listen that if it doesn't get a tax increase equal to $242 per $100,000 in home value, there would be, among other things, "massive" cuts to sports programs. 

Which got me thinking: Why the hell aren't sports programs the first thing to go in a budget crisis?

(And for the record, I write this not to avenge any real or imagined slights when I was a school kid; I pulled down a couple of varsity letters and even captained an admittedly rotten soccer team.)

C'mon, I mean, really, a school district that is more comfortable giving teachers pink slips than telling freshman, J.V., and varsity teams to go piss up a rope is just wrong.

Which got me thinking even more: Just how much do sports teams cost schools? It's not easy finding out, that's for sure. I asked a couple of education experts, both of whom told me the only way to know for sure is to burrow down into the budget of a particular district. Which I tried to do for the district my kids go to in Ohio, but couldn't really find the relevant material online.

But there are tantalizing bits of confetti floating around the Interwebs to suggest that there's an enormous amount of padding going on in sports budgets for K-12 education. Such as this tale from New Jersey:

The Press of Atlantic City analyzed state Department of Education data for school districts in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean counties. The 40 districts for which numbers were available cut athletic budgets by an average 10 percent from the past school year, Press analysis shows. Thirty-one of the districts cut school sports programs, while only seven increased funding and two stayed the same.

In the districts that cut athletic budgets, the cuts averaged 15 percent, Press analysis shows.

The most common casualties were freshman and middle-school sports, as well as more expensive varsity and junior varsity teams such as golf, swimming, ice hockey and winter track.

This story is a classic newspaper story in that nowhere does the reporter give a concrete example of how much a goddamn school district shells out for those all-important middle-school sports. Instead you get a number stew like this:

Since 2008, the school added a junior-varsity team to its volleyball program and a varsity lacrosse team, meanwhile increasing its budget by $35,719 from 2008 to 2009. This year it had to cut $74,448 by laying off 11 assistant coaches.

Hughes did not cut any teams, but other schools in the Shore Conference did, which will limit competition for freshman teams....

Most districts increased their budgets significantly the year before they slashed them.

Atlantic City added $72,693 to its athletic expenditures before removing $44,335 this year. Cumberland Regional added $108,193 before taking $32,052.

Lower Cape May Regional added $77,329, then cut $97,141. Barnegat Township added $47,270 in 2009-10, then took more than twice that amount.

You got that? Lower Cape May Regional appears to be down about $20,000 from where it was two years ago. Barnegat Township seems to be down a bit more than $47,270. But who can tell really? And for god's sake, whatever you do, don't just say Vince Lombardi High spent $500,000 on sports in the 2007-2008 school year and plans to spend $425,000 or $600,000 this school year.

But do make sure to put in quotes like this Coach Kleats klassic:

"I've learned more on the athletic field than I've learned in any classroom," said Dave Ryden, president of the Shore Conference, in which almost every high school in Ocean County competes.... I can't imagine walking out of my building at 3 o'clock every day and not see kids playing athletics. I can't picture that in my head," he said. "I don't want to see a world without high school athletics."

If that's true, then President Ryden went to an unbelievably shitty school that I'm betting cared more about sports than, say, reading. And it does pull at the heartstrings that in the midst of a severe recession, massive unemployment, and red ink bigger than a Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Ryden still can't figure out that the primary mission of schools might just be, well, edjumication. Or that it's kind of annoying to realize that Ryden is leaving work every day at 3 o'clock.

And then there's ditty, also from my home state of New Jersey:

The [New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Agency's] $5,295,353 budget for 2010-11 does not eliminate any state championship tournaments and is $530,861 (or 9.1 percent) less than the 2009-10 budget.

But the state championships are not safe beyond 2010-11. The NJSIAA must use $638,755 of its $1.2 million surplus to balance the 2010-11 budget.

Associate director Carol Parsons, who made $119,272.66 in 2009-10, will retire Aug. 1. The NJSIAA hired former Southern Regional Athletic Director Kim DeGraw-Cole at a salary of $82,500 to replace her....

Assistant director Bob Baly, who made $97,839, will retire Dec. 31 and will not be replaced. The NJSIAA also froze salaries and laid off a mailroom worker. All the personnel moves saved the NJSIAA $141,000 from 2009-10, according to Timko. The NJSIAA’s salary schedule for 2010-11 lists 16 employees, who are slated to make about $933,000.

All told, six NSIAA directors made an average of over $107,000 last year, plus use of cars and more. Which is pretty good work if you can get.

I enjoyed high school athletics when I was a kid. But you know what? I don't want to keep paying for them in a world where schools have already jacked per-pupil spending by almost 100 percent in real dollars since 1970 and still can't raise test scores or balance their budgets. Let CYO, American Legion, and a bunch of other actually voluntary organizations put together leagues and figure out how to pay for them.

Bonus outrage: Go to The Buckeye Institute's immensely user-friendly database of public-sector employment salaries and pension calculators in Ohio, where teachers pull down a fully loaded pension based on their three best years after 18 years on the job. I'm sure other state think tanks have done similar things for your home state. And if they haven't, what are they waiting for?

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  • ||

    http://www.lemondrop.com/2010/.....s-tuition/

    One in four lap dancers have a college degree.

  • ||

    That's an awesome statistic. It says everything that needs to be said. . .and more.

  • Attorney||

    Huh. In my experience, 4 in 4 lap dancers are working on getting their college degrees.

    Maybe all those tips weren't going toward tuition after all.

  • ||

    Are you forgetting about books? How about student activity fees? Tutors?

  • ||

    Not to mention Netflix fees incurred for purchasing such flics as All the Right Moves for their History of 1980s Film class?

  • ||

    All I know is that high school sports are like religion. You have your successful faiths (football, basketball), your struggling faiths (track, swimming), and your loser faiths (volleyball, soccer). But at least the kids are getting some exercise, which makes them too tired at the end of the week for real religion. That has to be a plus.

  • Steve Chaos||

    You SF'd that link, John: link!

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I learned more about life and team goals playing sports than I ever did in a music or art class.

    Let the museums. orchestras, and a bunch of other actually voluntary organizations put together leagues and figure out how to pay for them. They're already largely on the public teat anyway.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    . = , and Leagues = classes. Use preview next time, genius.

  • wisp||

    Funny, my experience was exactly the opposite.

    Isn't it strange how different people learn in different ways? ;)

  • ||

    Public education should involve teachers educating kids. If we simply must have it. All that other crap can go. And I do mean all of it.

  • Zeb||

    Schools do seem to have an awful lot of mission creep. Students are even being punished for things they do outside of school, as if their whole life needs to be centered about and managed by the school.

  • ||

    No "as if." There are definitely people in this country who want the schools--that is, government--raising children. Not pesky parents.

  • ||

    Can't we just accept that they warehouse the monsters until they are fit for service in our imperial forces or employment in our mills and factories?

  • ||

    A good rule of thumb for determining whether someone is a utopian menace is to find out whether they think parents or the government should be responsible for child-rearing. If they take the latter view, avoid them and do not allow them to have any power whatsoever.

  • ||

    I think athletics are an important part of school; if anything (and my high school self would have been outraged by this) some kind of serious physical training should be mandatory for all four years. If we're going to produce a bunch of semi-literate ignoramuses, they should at least have low body fat. Having kids basically working office jobs for the first 18 years of their life is kind of weird when you think about it. Not really surprising obesity is on the rise.

    That said, I think all budget cuts and schools should start at the activities most likely to cause irreversible brain damage, then go down. But I know not wrecking thousands of young boys brains and joints in the pursuit of parochial glory would result in mass riots.

  • creech||

    I was told on a tour of Germany that the schools there do not have athletic programs. Kids who want to play football (soccer), or swim, or wrestle or prepare to invade Belgium, join independent sports clubs.

  • ||

    Germany gets a bad rap on Belgium. They would be perfectly willing to just obtain a right-of-way as they seek to reunify with the French, but Belgium always foolishly says no.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Thankfully, it is only a mere scrap of paper that they have to worry about.

  • ||

    I don't see how a scrap of paper is going to stop a German army from pursuing its French-consuming destiny.

    I suggest that Belgium simply build a twelve-lane superhighway, rated for heavy tanks, from the German border to the French border. Belgium should also be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to sell food, drink, and petrol to their German guests. Naturally, all of the signage should be in German (no French, as it may offend the Germans' sensibilities).

  • ||

    Hermes Conrad: We can't compete with Mom! Her company is big and evil! Ours is small and neutral!

    That Guy: Switzerland is small and neutral! We are more like Germany, ambitious and misunderstood!

  • Ragin Cajun||

    "Yeah, about your pamphlet... uh, I'm not seeing anything about German history between 1939 and 1945. There's just a big gap."

    "Everyone vas on vacation."

  • Amy||

    Look, everybody wants to be like Germany. But do we really have the pure strength of will?

  • affenkopf||

    Invading Belgium is for losers, Invading Russia now that takes balls.

  • Spencer Smith||

    http://www.betterwritingskills.com/tip-w005.html

    Also, I have no problem with the athletics departments being funded by the users.

  • ||

    As a parent in what I consider to be a fairly wealthy school district, I am amazed at the level parents are expected to contribute. Here are some of the latest numbers from my family: Volleyball costs roughly $1000 for varsity senior. Between tournament costs, practically mandatory family ASB membership (I suppose we could not go to games), uniform costs, etc, it comes out to roughly a grand. This isn't counting shoes.

    Cheerleading (not a sport, Inorite) costs about $1500. This includes a $500 uniform, $35/month for professional cheer coach, pompoms ($40), and the list goes on. Not to mention the shoes again, which for Cheer are quite specific. I was a four year letterman in high school, in multiple sports, but I don't remember any costs anywhere close to this.

  • Editor||

    Garner's Modern American Usage, Follett's Modern American Usage, the WSJ style guide, and Lapsing into a Comma (Walsh) all come down on the side of "a historic."

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It seems to me that if you don't say "an history book" you wouldn't say "an historic pay 'freeze.'"

  • ||

    Of course it's "a historic." The rule in American English is simple and consistent. If a word starts with a consonant sound, it gets "a." If a word starts with a vowel sound, it gets an "an."

  • kinnath||

    an hour

  • kinnath||

    so easy to do, even an engineer can do it.

  • ||

    Exactly. An ow-er, for those slow on the uptake.

  • ||

  • kinnath||

    American: a historic moment.

    A lad in the pub: an 'istoric moment, iddn't it.

  • oncogenesis||

    You misspelled "innit".

  • Zeb||

    Right. The only purpose of "an" is to make pronunciation less awkward. Putting it in front of a word which starts with an H sound makes it more awkward.

  • ||

    "Of course it's "a historic." The rule in American English is simple and consistent. If a word starts with a consonant sound, it gets "a." If a word starts with a vowel sound, it gets an "an.""

    An user? An uniform? An Urkobold?

  • ||

    2 outta 3 ain't bad.

  • Publilius||

    He said "sound" not "letter." User and uniform start with a consonant sound ("yoozer," "yooniform").

  • ||

    ^^this is the truth. letters merely aim to represent the sounds. the sounds are primary.

  • ||

    A user. An uzi. Think past the alphabet.

  • Greer||

    I can tell you never played sports in high school.

  • ||

    By all means ditch the athletic programs but where, oh where, would all those loud-mouthed idiot parents go to do there vicarious living??

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    They'd just have to start up the old swinger parties again. AS GOD INTENDED.

  • Extended Warren T||

    Now I want to see Nick's yearbook photo.

    no homo

  • ||

    That would very likely be absolutely hilarious. How about it, Nick?

    No homo.

  • Extended Warren T||

    I've decided I want to see all of their yearbook photos.

    I would absolutely plotz if Balko had a mega fro back in the day.

  • Extended Warren T||

    No homo.

  • Tony||

    I want to see it too!

    Yes Homo.

  • Almanian||

    It's so hard to keep up....I'm treating "no homo" as the new "PBUH"...

    Test: "Hey there, Nick Gillespie!"
    (PBUH)
    No Homo

    /test

  • a||

    American fascination with school sports is indicative of what priority education gets in schools.

  • Shannon Love||

    I wasn't a jock in high school and used to resent the attention and resources devoted to athletics but as I have gained more experience in the real world, I've changed my mind.

    I would argue that athletics is the only part of the educational world that prepares students for the real-world of business that most of us will spend our lives in. Athletics is the only part of the educational world that teaches children how to work in real teams (no contrived group history projects don't count.) Athletics is the only part of the educational world that teaches children to deal with failures and setbacks. Athletics is the only part of the educational world that teaches children how to keep working when they tired, in pain or just plain bored.

    Outside of academia, teamwork, persistence in the face of failure and the ability to work hard in adverse conditions without immediate reward contribute more to individual success in the long run than a grasp of the intellectual fads of du jour. . Some other team activities like band, theater etc teach teamwork to some degree but none of those activities teach the full package as well as athletics.

    Research has long shown that students who participate in athletics do better both in school and life than those who do not.

    With the utter destruction of trade education, athletics may be the only part of school that students from poor and working class backgrounds can relate to. The mania for cramming everyone into a college track is easily the most destructive education trend of the last 50 years. Athletics gives poor kids a chance to raise themselves up by merit alone. Very few will ever make a living of it but if a child learns that they can rise on merit in one field of endeavor, it makes them believe they can rise on merit in another. It gives them a taste of the success that honest hard work can give. Where are they going to get that lesson elsewhere in a modern school?

    If we could wave a magic wand and guarantee that money taken from athletics would go to effective programs to teach literacy, numeracy and basic jobs skills, I would say maybe we should go for the tradeoff. However, it is very clear that a lack of resources is not the problem with modern schools. Money looted from athletics will just be spent on administration, pensions, lawsuits and the latest education-method fad. It won't do any good and we will lose the benefits that athletics gain.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Baloney.

    The kids doing work on the school newspaper, the yearbook, drama club, chess team, etc. all get the same lessons. These are multi-person extra curricular activities, some of which have some sort of sales/revenue attached to them and the participants are directly involved in working within the budgets. The athletes never see the damn budgets, they just bitch and moan about not having enough towels.

  • ||

    I think Shannon makes a good point. Having particpated in athletics as well as the debate team and the school newspaper, I can tell you that sports had more real world applicability than the debating team or the school newpaper.

  • Russ 2000||

    I had a job so I didn't have time for activities like sports or theater. I got real world experience in the real world rather than the pretend world.

  • Shannon Love||

    I think you will find that most extra-curricular activities have died out. I once came across a year book of my small high school from the 50s and I was shocked by how many clubs and activities there were back then compared to today. Hell, they don't even have debate teams anymore. It is all gone to one-on-one Lincoln-Douglas style crap.

    Even with the remaining extra-curricular activities most are not really team activities or they rely on two or three person teams at most. Setting around in a planning meeting isn't working on a team.

    Besides, few activities stress a kid as much as athletics. Athletics provides emotional training that physically passive activities simply cannot.

  • marlok||

    "one-on-one Lincoln-Douglas style crap"

    What, you prefer Policy Debate speed-reading?

  • Some Guy||

    L-D was for kids who liked to stand on their own, think, and debate.
    Team was for people who liked to speed-read cards at each other.

  • Shannon Love||

    Whatever L-D strengths, it was considered the weakest form of debate in my day, it does not teach a person to work within a team.

    I must confess that the more experience in the world I get, the more phrases like, "stand on their own, think, and debate" sound less like statements of individual responsibility and more like narcissism and hubris.

    Somehow, individualism and individual moral responsibility has mutated into a "I do what I want and the rest of you can clean up the mess."

  • The Gobbler||

    I believe Socrates said the ideal education would have four disciplines -- Music, Math Poetry and gymnastics.

    Discuss.

  • ||

    English, math, science, history. Everything else they can do on their own danged time. And dime.

  • ||

    Besides, by gymnastics, Socrates meant oil wrestling. And not chicks.

  • Libertarian pedophile strawman||

    Yes homo

  • Upgrayyed||

    I am going to have to say that the welding and woodworking skills that I acquired in shop class have been a bit more valuable in adult life than bench warming on the 9th grade c-squad basketball team

  • ||

    You know, I wonder if there's a market for training kids--on the side, not as part of their traditional education--in things like woodworking, basic electronics, etc.

  • Upgrayyed||

    Seems like a Boy Scout type organization could fill this need, without the Christianity and molestation.

  • ||

    I like the concept. Lord knows that our ability to do anything offline is diminishing rapidly.

  • ||

    My husband does this voluntarily. A few of his friends' kids want to learn welding and basic mechanics (one is only 7 years old) so he spends some time every weekend showing them the basics of how to pull cars apart and put them back together (varying the project to the kid's age and ability). He's showing the older kids how to weld simple frames and do basic carpentry. Two of the boys just helped him finish building a skate ramp in their backyard. They downloaded the blueprints and saved money to buy the materials themselves.

    These kids are pretty bright but the older ones don't show much inclination to go to college. What they are learning now about construction techniques and safety on the job will likely carry them far as they go out into the job market after high school.

    I couldn't imagine my husband taking money from his friends to do this, but he would certainly be happy to educate others for some side money. However, regulatory restrictions and certification demands in NJ would likely prevent him from ever opening a "school" of this type.

  • Jim Levenstein||

    And band camp!

    http://tinyurl.com/c6cd9f

  • Colonel_Angus||

    What a load of shit.

  • JEP||

    I enjoy athletics and I wish I had been able to devote more time to them while in high school. But I would rather see sports programs cut back a little than have a huge tax hike.

    I went to a magnet program that was attached to another, normal high school. The magnet program was run by a vice principle under the principle of the normal high school.

    Because you had to apply to get into the magnet program, it was supposed to be pretty elite - you had to be pretty smart to get in. Instead of using the magnet program for what it was meant for, the principle forced the magnet program to accept students who wouldn't normally get in so that her high school could get the 6A state funding for the football team that she wanted. Also, because no child left behind and a lot of other public school metrics are done by averages, having a small group of crazy smart kids brought the average tests scores, SAT and ACT scores, GPAs, etc way up. That way, she could let the rest of her school go to hell in a hand basket.

    Bottom line, sports are good, but you don't need a gigantic budget to support them. The most valuable lesson I learned from athletics is how to make myself do something incredibly painful to obtain a goal I want. You can do that by just sinking a few thousand into a decent weight room and finding coaches who know what they're doing instead of a bunch of fat schmucks who are indulging their nostalgia.

  • ||

    in re last paragraph: right on. I came to athletics late, and I came to them through running, biking, and weight training - all solo activities for the most part. I feel great. Physical activity is vital but not everyone is cut out for organized sports.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Not to wave the nerd banner, but I think competetive Marching Band should not be maligned as a "non-athletic, non-team building" activity. Kids in marching band have to work together in concert, memorizing music, running around a field together, staggering their breathing, as they try and belt out music that hopefully does not sound like ass. It takes a lot of preperation and work for a marching band to sound merely crappy. Moreover, it emphasizes personal responsibility because it will become readily apparent to all who did not memorize shit when the the 2nd and 3rd trumpets randomly drop out of the mix. Sure, maybe it did not exercise the kids as much as say football, but boy, it's a shit-ton of work with very little reward. Expecting failure is the name of the game (like life).

  • Invisible Finger||

    Although not related, it's becoming increasingly more important for teenage basketball players to play on select AAU basketball teams in the hopes of landing college scholarships - their high school basketball means less and less.

    From what I know about high school band and high school dance programs, the school basically pays for one coach and lets them use the school facilities. All the travel expenses and uniforms come from fund raisers. Meanwhile the athletes don't pay a cent for uniforms or travel to and from games; that's fine if the box office receipts (generally just football and basketball) cover the expenses but if they don't the difference is made up by taxes.

    I remember schlepping door to door for Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball, an those weren't travel teams. Can't understand why high school sports participants are put on a pedestal.

  • Robert||

    I feel sorry for what's happened with the AAU: being muscled out of adult sports by the NCAA & USOC.

  • ||

    "It's been four hours now, and Tom Cruise still will not come out of the closet. Hundreds of onlookers here have gathered here in hopes that the celebrity will finally give in."

  • ||

    Never happen.

  • ||

    Not as long as he's a Scientologist, that's for sure. As far as Scientology is concerned, it really is "no homo".

    God, he must be miserable. Even if he does have a really low thetan level.

  • ||

    I work--and live, for that matter--pretty close to the HQ for Scientology. Do you think I get extra thetans through such proximity?

  • ||

    Well, one could theorize that all those thetans that the Scientologists are shedding near you, by their own logic, will need to find a person to infest. Which could be you.

    You're a parasite lawyer! Sue them! To win, they'd have to say their own religion is bullshit! Either way, you win!

  • ||

    If I could do that, I'd become like a god.

  • ||

    . . .and start my own religion. With all of the Scientologists thus ruined, cult-wise, I'd have a ready supply of followers.

    Gandhi was a lawyer, and he's practically a religious figure.

  • ||

    Do you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?

  • ||

    Yes, but only as the more Vegas Elvis-like Val Kilmer. Not the young one.

  • ||

    Here's what I mean.

  • ||

    The True Romance Kilmer-Elvis?

  • ||

    Later. More Nero-like in visage.

  • ||

    So what's you're saying is that you actually want to look like Kevin Costner in 3000 Miles to Graceland. You sicken me. Even more than that movie does.

  • ||

    Where did you get that from? Costner? In fact, I envision hiring him to be the Anti-Pro of my religion.

    People don't respect thin, toned gods. Look what happened to the Greek gods.

  • ||

    Yes, who mourns for Adonais?

  • ||

    Exactly. Nobody does. I knew you'd understand.

  • ||

    And they crucified Jesus. He was a carpenter, so he was probably thin and in good shape.

  • ||

    Dennis: I don't wanna get too bulky.

    Dee: Right.

    Dennis: I wanna stay nice and lean and tight. I wanna get that Jesus on the cross look. You know what I mean?

    Dee: I see what you're saying. I think that crucifixion must have been really good for your core because...

    Dennis: Oh, absolutely. Jesus had, like, the best abs. He had the right idea. Hey, he knew: no pain, no gain.

    Dee: He had good messages.

    Dennis: I'm sure he started that.

  • ||

    I'm hard put to think of any thin god that's come through unscathed.

  • ||

    Gozer the Gozarian? Zuul?

  • ||

    Defeated by mortals? I think not.

  • Spoonman.||

    Take a lesson for The Lights of Zetar and squeeze the Thetans out.

  • Greer||

    Fuck you all, you don't have any idea what the fuck you're talking about.

  • Extended Warren T||

    Is this mission impossible?

  • ||

    He makes all the right moves.

  • damnyankee||

    In our school district you will be hard pressed to find any coach that is not a teacher. No matter what skill or lack of skill to coach a sports team, the teachers are given priority in receiving these positions. My son's soccer coach had the audacity to say he coached because of his passion while saying he only made $2 a day extra. What a lie, there is no way he only receives a few hundred dollars for this position. A few thousand is more like it. So in reality most of the sports programs are kept around to give the poor teachers more avenues to increase their paychecks. I wonder if their coaching pay is used to calculate their retirement?

  • ChrisO||

    The football coach is typically given some sort of class to teach as a fig leaf to claim that he is a "teacher." I'm sure it's different for the sports that are lower on the totem pole.

    If the kids need exercise (and they do), then gym class, where everyone participates, is perfectly sufficient. Let the kids who wish to play club sports do so on their own time and dollars.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    The football coach at my high school was the "CSI" teacher; indoor suspension (for those of us who did stupid things in high school, rather than bad things where outdoor suspension was seen as too punitive or some such shit).

    He didn't teach a goddamn thing, and was very proud to make $429 dollars a day (x 180 school days) + generous benefits.

  • Soccer Sux||

    Nick played high school soccer? Lame!

    They could save a lot of money by merging boys' soccer teams with girls' field hockey.

    Or just give the boys maxi-pads and call it a day.

  • ||

    SIV? Is that you?

  • Zeb||

    Try this: "I don't like soccer".

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Spoken like someone who never played the game beyond the peewee rec league, if at all.

    I used to coach our local U14 "traveling" team. There was a pretty good little athlete that I tried to recruit, and he kept giving me the "soccer is for pussies" answer. He liked football, and that was that.

    I finally got him to show up and try it out. 30 seconds after I put him in the match, an opposing player executed a text-book slide tackle and sent him "ass over teakettle".

    He came out 10 or 15 minutes later, flushed, sweaty, scraped up, limping, and with an absolute glow on his face. I asked him what he thought about soccer now, and he just grinned. He was hooked.

  • ||

    The soccer games of my youth were quite violent. If the ref wasn't looking...

  • BakedPenguin||

    The animated gif of this was posted yesterday, but it's worth a look.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    That is the Gayest Story since Gay came to Gaytown.

  • Robert||

    They could save a lot of money by merging boys' soccer teams with girls' field hockey.


    They do that around here, call the products Gaelic football & hurling for both sexes.

  • ||

    Aren't these the schools that gave us Snookie and The Situation?

  • Nipplemancer||

    those retards aren't actually from new jersey

  • ||

    For fuck's sake, half of them are from Staten Island. That explains a lot.

    There are still retards at the shore in Jersey, but they come down from Clifton, Pompton Lakes, and Totowa on a regular basis.

  • ||

    And the audience that watches them.

  • Mark||

    I wanna play devil's advocate for a second here.

    Athletics have about as much in common with what we're expected to do as adults as any other subject. Why discriminate against athletic, dumb kids by eliminating the only thing they're good at?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Because we love seeing dumb mongoloids starving in the streets while wearing our monocles and top hats?

  • Astrid||

    For an extra serving of outrage type in the name Aimee Stanton in the Buckeye Institute's database.

  • Attorney||

    Whoa. That is some serious green.

  • kilroy||

    $781,000.00?

    WTF?

  • Astrid||

    $794,000 actually. Unless there are two teachers named Aimee Stanton, one who make 781,000 a year and one who makes 13,000 a year, but I doubt that.

  • ||

    Get off her ass. She hasn't had a COLA in at least 3 years.

  • ||

    From that list, man, I should go into special ed for the deaf. Seriously, $400,000 a year to teach kids sign language 8 hours a day?

  • Chad||

    So let's cut all the sports programs, ensure that most of our kids, twenty years from now, are diabetic lard-butts, and then make a fortune selling them medicine!

    Nick! What a GREAT PLAN!

  • cynical||

    Wouldn't it be easier to just ban school lunches? Double the savings, man.

  • Chad||

    So let's cut all the sports programs, ensure that most of our kids, twenty years from now, are diabetic lard-butts, and then make a fortune selling them medicine!

    Nick! What a GREAT PLAN!

  • kilroy||

    Maybe it should be the people that produced the kids that are responsible for them.

  • ||

    Several of my college friends are home-schooling their kids. All of them make their own, personalized arrangements for sports and PE. Some of them get together with other home-schooling families in their communities and arrange for use of a community center or school gym. None of them have lard-butt kids.

    Team and competitive sports are and always have been available outside of public schools, for those families who want to participate in them.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Mayhaps we're approaching this from the wrong angle. School systems could STILL perform their academic roles AND provide for extra-curricular activities if not for examples such as this one from out own Brickbat files:

    Hard Lessons
    Posted on August 17, 2010, 6:00AM

    The Milwaukee school system is facing a huge budget deficit and has laid off hundreds of teachers. At the same time, the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association has taken the school board to court to force it to cover Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs in its health insurance plans. The school board says the benefit would cost it about $786,000 a year.

  • ola||

    "And for the record, I write this not to avenge any real or imagined slights when I was a school kid; I pulled down a couple of varsity letters and even captained an admittedly rotten soccer team."

    That explains it.

  • Fire Tiger||

    I would say that athletics are a rather easy target for this kind of rant. However don't forget band, chorus, home ec, wood working, ag classes, photography, art, video, shop, welding etc. etc. etc. (If you want to try a fun exercise go to your local high schools web site and try and find what classes they offer)

    On a side note my eldest son, who is a junior in high school, is currently taking only 1 "real" class, english, and 5 electives. Next year he will only have to take 2 "real" classes, english and history. He has already taken and passed the California exit exam, and when he leaves high school will probably end up going to a trade school. Honestly, nothing he is learning right now will have a lasting effect on his life and is more akin to babysitting than anything else.

  • ||

    At the same time, the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association has taken the school board to court to force it to cover Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs in its health insurance plans.

    If you can't get it up for a sixteen year old girl, you should just eat a bullet.

    Sheesh.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Or a sixteen year old boy....
    NTTAWWT

  • Almanian||

    Spend my tax dollars, if you must, on edjumication courses (math, science, English, social studies (world/US history, US civics). Band,football, etc. - pay to play.

    Not that I'll hold my breath we'll ever get there.

    I'm not a hater: loved me some band and several sports in HS/college (in addition to the usual "college prep" HS coursework), and have two kids in college and one HS sophomore, all of whom did well in HS academics AND participated in music/sports (that we paid for). So I'm not a hater - just had enough of the waste, esp "in this economic environment". Layoff teachers or coaches (pick both!!): that should not be a difficult decision.

    PS is this where I say "no homo, PBUH"?

  • Robert||

    The reason they don't cut sports is that they know what the Amish realized long ago: that the content of HS schooling isn't worth much. So you might as well spend it on fun & games.

    I coach youth football (American) here in the Bronx. I participate in online forums with coaches from elsewhere in the country and world, and in the rest of the USA they find it odd that here in NYC we have non-scholastic football clubs for teenagers. In the rest of the country that would be strange because once they got to that age they'd all be playing on school teams. It's not that we don't have interscholastic football in NYC; it's just that over the past 50 yrs. it's been deemphasized, with some of that slack being taken up by clubs, including some clubs that have both adult and youth teams, and some clubs with no adult but both children's and teenage teams.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What Scott, Pro Lib, and a few others have said: let the fucking parents pay for it, or let the jockos pull part time jobs if they want to play so badly.

    When I was hearing the local news whine about how much money the childrens weren't gonna get because of the bad budget, I kept waiting for them to point out that sports teams cost a shitload, and maybe they wouldn't have to fire any teachers if they got rid of some sports. It was mentioned only in passing, and they made sure and hyped the terrible, terrible consequences if kids couldn't play sports.

  • ||

    I agree that sports aren't nearly as important as academics, but ditching sports programs wouldn't cut costs; it would merely shift them.

    Guess what happens when you have thousands of kids suddenly with nothing to do at 3 in the afternoon and no parents to supervise them?

    They'll get into fights, shop lift, do drugs, etc., all of which comes at a high cost to the community.

    I basically look at sports programs as glorified babysitting schemes for those volunteering to be babysat.

  • Robert||

    I agree that sports aren't nearly as important as academics


    Then why do we value someone's being a good sport, and when we say something is "academic", we mean "irrelevant"?

    ditching sports programs wouldn't cut costs; it would merely shift them.

    Guess what happens when you have thousands of kids suddenly with nothing to do at 3 in the afternoon and no parents to supervise them?

    They'll get into fights, shop lift, do drugs, etc., all of which comes at a high cost to the community.


    This is a subset of the general argument over tax-funded schooling. They say the costs should be borne by the community as a whole because the benefits go to the community as a whole.

  • ||

    There are plenty of athletic programs for elementary aged kids, and if high school programs were all cut it would only mean that all these HS athletes get involved in youth sports programs that fill the void.

    Duh.

  • Robert||

    That's exactly how it is in New York City. However, in most of the country it seems that youth sports at least as applied to teens is viewed as less wholesome than that which has been blessed by gov't, or at least by a private school.

    However, if you look at it more closely, scholastic sports coaches, who are mostly getting paid (although schools do make some use of volunteer help), view unpaid volunteers (who non-scholastic coaches and administrators almost always are) as competition undercutting them. Coaches piss & moan over state licensure requirements for them to work in gov't schools, but they do look a bit disparagingly at the voluntary certif'n programs that non-scholastic youth sports programs run for coaches.

  • justj||

    Why the hell aren't sports programs the first thing to go in a budget crisis?

    Well Nick, a team sport offers a valuable learning experience to young people that they could not get from a text book, a Youtube video, an interactive computer learning program , PBS, or a Powerpoint presentation.

    So the question I have is why the heck does anyone stand in front of 30 or 40 teenagers, scrawling symbols on a white board, in a pedestrian effort to them teach algebra?

  • Greer||

    So they can figure out ERA later?

    So they can figure out the best fantasy team later?

  • ||

    Nickie,

    Don't forget that your Masters of Compensation and Composition hail from Texas.

    High school football is the John Hagee-Meets-Avigdor-Lieberman Religion of the Zealots in Texas.

    Nickie, I agree with your take on the issue. Your Lone Star Masters of Compensation and Composition may have feelings of their own.

    Is your resume up to date?

    Remember your words:

    "Full disclosure: David Koch has been on the board of trustees of Reason Foundation, the publisher of this website, for decades, and his name appears in the masthead of Reason magazine; I have also taught at various programs for the Institute for Humane Studies, which the Kochs fund, and will speak at an Americans for Prosperity event later this week. While I have never had more than brief interaction with either brother, I am perhaps overdue in thanking them on this blog for supporting my career at Reason..."
    - Signed (on his knees),
    Nick Gillespie
    The Koch Brothers'
    Most Loyal Loyalist

  • ||

    Most of the defenses of taxpayer-funded sports and extracurricular activities seem to boil down to:

    State schooling on academics sucks so hard that nobody really learns much of anything about math, English, etc. Compared to that abysmally low level of success, extra-curriculars actually teach a few lessons.

    Really, is that all it takes to say that we should keep funding something with taxpayer dollars? That it isn't the biggest failure we're funding, so what the hell?

  • Suprashoesweb||

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