Friday, May 28, 2010

Commentary: Stuck at a crossroads

I wanted to hear both sides of the argument before coming up with a opinion regarding the possibility of eliminating or suspending certain sports at Greenville-Weston.
After hearing both sides of the argument, I still find it difficult to take one side over the other.
On one side, the primary objective of the school district is to educate its students. And on the other, sports pay a vital role in the upbringing of a child. (Most of my most visible memories came on the basketball court.)
So who should get cut: the debate team or the softball squad? Should the biology lab be eliminated to make room for the soccer team? Will the new classroom projectors make a bigger impact than practicing a golf swing?
To be completely honest, I don’t have a definite answer. But what I do know is that if it wasn’t for sports while I was in high school, my name would probably be in the newspaper for a totally different reason. Excessive free time isn’t always a good thing for a 17-year-old.
Sports serves as a outlet. Plus, it gives kids an incentive to even attend class. If a student isn’t at soccer practice, where will he or she be at?
Recently while talking to Philadelphia, Pa.-born boxer Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter before his fight at Harlow's Casino, he told me something I will never forget.
“If I wasn’t boxing, I’ll probably be stressing somewhere,” he explained.
I understand the district’s stance that money is tight and academics are the first priority. I take no issue with that. But at the same time, in some cases, having to run laps for being late to soccer practice can have just as (or even more) important role on a student’s life as the Pythagorean theorem. I’ve never heard of anyone being fired from a job for not knowing the story of Beowulf, but I do know several who ended up at Win Job Center for arriving late to work.
And college sponsorship is another reason sports play such an important role, especially in a rural town like Greenville. According to, over 20 percent of Greenville residents lived below the poverty line in 2007. And common sense will tells me that the recent economic downturn has only increased that total. And that number will most likely continue to rise unless those from the Delta have the opportunity to change the Delta.
And sports gives them that opportunity -- whether it be financially or though a Joe Horn-like message. (Joe Horn delivered a heartfelt message to students at Weston Academy several weeks ago).
Even if you disagree with the role of sports on a student’s life, if you get a monthly statement from Sallie Mae then you can truly comprehend the importance of a full-ride athletic scholarship.
The average college student leaves college with over $20,000 in student loan debt. That’s $20k (plus interest) that could have been spent upgrading the Delta.
Again, I’m not attempting to downplay the importance of academics, only show that life is not only about test scores.Test scores show how well you did that day, not how well you will do in life.

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