Legislation to allow home-schooled students to play varsity sports at public schools passed the Republican-controlled Virginia Assembly on Wednesday. It will now go before the State Senate. Robert McDonnell, Virginia's Republican governor, has said he supports the bill.
Alabama and Mississippi are considering similar legislation, and 25 states now allow home-schooled students to play sports at public schools with varying restrictions. Is this a move in the right direction?
Seventeen-year-old Katie Wormald has more than a passing interest in soccer. She's been playing since she was 5, plans to compete in college -- and maybe earn a business degree to start a soccer-related company.
But because Wormald attends classes in her living room instead of a classroom, she lost a chance to play on a more competitive public high school team. Instead, she plays in recreational leagues, on travel teams and at a small, local private school.
There's nothing like going out to a high school basketball game with the family to give you a break from cabin fever.
High school sports have always played an important role in Carroll County. Although one may have a lively discussion as to which sport is the favorite in the county, there can no doubt that basketball -- and wrestling -- provide a great respite from Carroll County's cold miserable winter weather.
Many years ago, the old Westminster Armory on Longwell Avenue was the site of many sporting events in the community, especially basketball.
Like it or not, sports is a business. From big-time professional leagues like the National Football League to local high school action, sports have been a reliable revenue stream for decades.
At the college level, successful athletic programs have paid dividends for their schools by generating cash. Sporting events boost local economies in tourist dollars, money spent at bars, restaurants and hotels, and of course tax revenue for local government.
It's the fight over local business and tax revenue that has become the real center stage in a battle over tournament scheduling and the location of tournaments that is raging between the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Athletic Department and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which officiates high school sports in the Badger State. At issue is where the boys and girls state basketball tournaments will play in 2013 and beyond.
Eliminating high school athletics during a school year is unusual, especially in a sports-loving state such as Texas.
But that's exactly what's happening in this small ranching community where the school district is taking desperate measures to prevent a state-mandated closure due to poor academics.
The Premont Independent School District is even deploying its superintendent, a constable and high school principal to the homes of truant students in an effort to improve dismal attendance.
Do sports build character? For those of us who claim to be educators, it's important to know. Physical-education teachers, coaches, boosters, most trustees, and the balance of alumni seem sure that they do. And so they push sports, sports, and more sports. As for professors, they often see sports as a diversion from the real business of education--empty, time-wasting, and claiming far too much of students' attention. It often seems that neither the boosters nor the bashers want to go too far in examining their assumptions about sports.
But in fact, sports are a complex issue, and it's clear that we as a culture don't really know how to think about them. Public confusion about performance-enhancing drugs, the dangers of concussions in football and of fighting in hockey, and the recent molestation scandal at Penn State suggest that it might be good to pull back and consider the question of athletics and education--of sports and character-building--a bit more closely than we generally do.
How does a project increase 42% in less than a year? How does it mushroom 83% in less than 2 years?More, here.
WHY WHY WHY does this district continue to pound for more than more, better than best? And how do these numbers keep growing? What originally was discussed as a maximum taxpayer commitment of $475,000 has ballooned into the idea of going to referendum with the "new building (elementary school) referendum? Note once again that no decision has been made to even BUILD a new building...but athletic director McClowry and district administration put forth a Situation Report that sure seems certain that that is what's going to happen?
Let's stroll back through time, shall we? Take a look see at how the landscape of the Ashley Project has changed.
Former Glades Central football coach Jessie Hester resigned Thursday as coach at Suncoast after just 10 months at the school.
Hester, 48, said the job at one of Palm Beach County's top academic public schools "wasn't the right fit" for him. The academic pressures the students faced made it difficult for the football team to practice and prepare for games, Hester said, adding that his team would go weeks without a full practice because his players had other school obligations.
The Chargers finished 4-6, missing the playoffs and tying for third in a five-team district.
"There are great, great people at the school, and great kids," Hester said, "but it was just not a good fit for me. It was too difficult to do the things I wanted to do in that situation."
It was no secret that Suncoast, with its nationally ranked academic programs and rigorous academic requirements, would be a more challenging job than Hester's previous job at his alma mater.
THE SPORTING SCENE about the football program at Don Bosco Preparatory School in Ramsey, New Jersey. Don Bosco, which belongs to the Salesian order of Roman Catholicism, was founded in 1915, as a boarding school for Polish boys, and shut its dormitories for good in 1969. Its reinvention as a football factory began in 1999, with the arrival of a new principal, Father John Talamo.) Talamo, who was thirty-four, had grown up on the outskirts of New Orleans, and brought with him the football-centric values of his native Louisiana.
Jacob Rainey is inspiring people all across the sports world - and no more so than giants from the NFL.
The Virginia prep quarterback who had to have part of his right leg amputated has moved the likes of Alabama coach Nick Saban, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Denver quarterback Tim Tebow.
A highlight film of Rainey on YouTube shows why college coaches had taken notice.
It shows the once-promising quarterback at Woodberry Forest School throwing a 40-yard dart for a touchdown, running into the line on a quarterback sneak, then emerging from the pile and sprinting 40 yards for a TD. There is also of clip of him running a draw for another 35-yard score.
All that was taken away, without warning when he was tackled during a scrimmage on September 3. He suffered a severe knee injury and a severed artery and part of his right leg had to be amputated.
The gap in grade point averages between male and female students widens when their college football team is winning.
As the college football season approaches its climax, a just-released set of statistics should give fans of Bowl-bound teams pause.
According to three University of Oregon economists, when a university's football team has a winning season, the grade point average of male students goes down.
At least, that was the case at their own school over the course of nine recent seasons. Given that the University of Oregon is "largely representative of other four-year public institutions," they have no reason to believe the equation won't apply elsewhere.
I recently received a history paper submitted by a high school Junior who was kind enough
to enumerate the hours he has spent on athletics in a recent year:
Football: 13 hours a week, 13 weeks per year. (169 hours)
Basketball: 12 hours a week, 15 weeks per year. (180 hours)
Lacrosse: 12 hours a week, 15 weeks per year. (180 hours)
Summer Lacrosse: 10 hours per week, 15 weeks per year. (150 hours)
This yields a total, by my calculations, of
169 + 180 + 180 hours = 529 hours + 150 in the summer, for a new total of 679 hours.
We are told that there is no time for high school students to write serious history research papers, which they need to do to prepare themselves for college academic requirements. It seems likely that this young man will be better prepared in athletics
than in academics.
If it were considered important for all students to read history books and to write a serious history research paper, 679 hours (84 eight-hour days) might just be enough for them to manage that.
This particular young man made the time on his own to write a 28-page history research paper with a bibliography and 107 endnotes and submit it to The Concord Review, but this was not his high school requirement.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
Spring means murre eggs and bowhead whales. Summer is seals and salmon and berries. Fall and winter are a time to track caribou.
And then there is that other season here at the edge of the earth, the one that never seems to end.
It is called basketball season, and it, too, has become crucial to existence.
"When I leave school I don't have to think about it, I know I'm coming here," said Caroline Long, 18, a senior at Tikigaq School. "I know for a fact that this is where I'm going to be."
The "this" Ms. Long was referring to is this tiny village's magical redoubt from the dark and forbidding Arctic and one of the secrets of its outsize stature in Alaska sports lore: open gym.
More than four out of every five student-athletes who play sports at the NCAA's highest level now graduate within six years, according to an annual report released this past week by the college sports oversight body.
A formula used by the association indicates a record 82 percent of NCAA Division I student-athletes who entered school in 2004 earned a degree within six years. That figure is three percentage points higher than last year and eight points above the graduation success rates (GSR) first collected by the NCAA with the entering freshman class of 1995.
Of the student-athletes who entered UW-Madison in 2004, the NCAA reports 81 percent graduated within six years. Not all the news at UW-Madison is so rosy, however, but more on that later. (To check out how your favorite school did or to view a sport-by-sport breakdown for each institution, check out this NCAA database.)
"There is a stereotype about college athletes that they're here to play sports and not to be academically successful, but as you can see from the report the overwhelming majority of student-athletes are getting through school," says Adam Gamoran, a professor of sociology and educational policy studies who chairs the UW Athletic Board's academics and compliance committee. "We select great students and only enroll those who we are confident can be academically successful here."
Education writers rarely examine high school sports, but something is happening there that might help pull our schools out of the doldrums.
In the last school year, a new national survey found, 7,667,955 boys and girls took part in high school sports. This is 55.5 percent of all students, according to the report from the National Federation of State High School Associations, and the 22nd straight year that participation had increased.
Despite two major recessions and numerous threats to cut athletic budgets to save academics, high schools have found ways not only to keep sports alive but increase the number of students playing. We have data indicating sports and other extracurricular activities do better than academic classes in teaching leadership, teamwork, time management and other skills crucial for success in the workplace.
Coaches may be the only faculty members still allowed by our culture and educational practice to get tough with students not making the proper effort. They have the advantage of teaching what are essentially elective non-credit courses. They can insist on standards of behavior that classroom teachers often cannot enforce because the stakes of dismissing or letting students drop their courses are too high.
Those of us who inhabit the core of the university's academic environment share the enthusiasm for measuring and evaluating the quality of our institutions, although we have less enthusiasm for the endless ranked lists that appear in popular publications.
While some dote on the U.S. News rankings, which like their BCS counterpart rely on hugely unreliable opinion surveys, we, however, prefer our own system for evaluating the Top American Research Universities that recognizes the importance of successful performance among highly competitive institutions without requiring a simple top to bottom ranking that often distorts more than it informs.
For over ten years, The Center for Measuring University Performance, now located at Arizona State University, has produced an annual report on the Top American Research Universities that uses objective data on nine measures to put universities into categories according to their performance.
Somebody will win Saturday's football game between Ohio State and Miami, which has been jokingly dubbed "the IneligiBowl." But no matter the outcome, neither team can fairly consider itself a winner.
Both of these football powerhouses are under NCAA investigation for alleged rules violations in which athletes were given cash, gifts and services ranging from tattoos to wild parties on a private yacht. The NCAA, which is rightly determined to make sure its championships can't be bought, forbids athletes from taking anything from supporters beyond the benefits in their scholarships.
As the muck thickens, the narrative that has taken hold is that the lucrative end of college sports--particularly football--is a fetid swamp that needs to be drained and disinfected. But amid all the righteous indignation, there's a small but incongruous fact lurking just outside the picture: In most cases where college athletes take money, the sums are pretty small.
A litany of scandals in recent years have made the corruption of college sports constant front-page news. We profess outrage each time we learn that yet another student-athlete has been taking money under the table. But the real scandal is the very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves. Here, a leading civil-rights historian makes the case for paying college athletes--and reveals how a spate of lawsuits working their way through the courts could destroy the NCAA.
"I'm not hiding," Sonny Vaccaro told a closed hearing at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2001. "We want to put our materials on the bodies of your athletes, and the best way to do that is buy your school. Or buy your coach."
How to Fix College Sports Vaccaro's audience, the members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, bristled. These were eminent reformers--among them the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, two former heads of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and several university presidents and chancellors. The Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that takes an interest in college athletics as part of its concern with civic life, had tasked them with saving college sports from runaway commercialism as embodied by the likes of Vaccaro, who, since signing his pioneering shoe contract with Michael Jordan in 1984, had built sponsorship empires successively at Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. Not all the members could hide their scorn for the "sneaker pimp" of schoolyard hustle, who boasted of writing checks for millions to everybody in higher education.
With the institution she leads, the University of Miami, in the midst of a football scandal that threatens to be among the worst in National Collegiate Athletic Association history, Donna E. Shalala might be forgiven for trying to change the conversation about Miami's sports program away from acknowledged rule breaking by current and former players, possible wrongdoing by university employees, and the potential imposition of the NCAA's "death penalty."
In the latest in a series of public statements she has made since the controversy broke several weeks ago, Shalala shifted the focus this week to the academic performance of Miami's athletes. In doing so, however, she engaged in some hyperbole about the institution's standing and the company it keeps.
Randy White of the Dallas Cowboys, star defensive tackle of the 1970s, member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame: What a joy it was to watch him play! White was a master of leverage, burst and anticipation. Today, he might not even make an NFL roster. If White got on the field, he'd be crushed.
White played defensive tackle at 257 pounds, across from centers weighing 240 or 250 pounds and guards who were considered huge if 265. Last year's Super Bowl featured defensive tackles B.J. Raji (337 pounds) and Casey Hampton (330 pounds) versus guards Chris Kemoeatu (344 pounds) and Josh Sitton (318 pounds). Either guard would have steamrolled Randy White as if he wasn't there.
As for today's biceps: Your Honor, I call to the stand America's leading expert on these matters, Mel Kiper Jr. Everyone assumes today's football players are bigger, faster and stronger than those who came before. But what does the data show? No one is better suited to answer that question than Kiper.
Far, far in the past -- about 1980 -- the United States was not obsessed with the NFL draft. Of course that's hard to imagine today. Once, bread did not come sliced. But I digress.
College football, to put it as charitably as possible, had a less-than-ideal offseason.
From the Southeast to the Pacific Northwest, a series of scandals, controversies, academic outrages and incidents of boorish behavior has taken a toll on the good names of several schools.
This weekend's spotlight game, for instance, pits No. 3-ranked Oregon, a school that's under NCAA investigation for possible recruiting violations, against No. 4 LSU, whose top quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, is suspended for his part in a brawl outside a campus watering hole called Shady's.
From the standpoint of most spectators, football is all about the game. From the standpoint of most players, football is all about practice. What players go through at practice, particularly two-a-days, can be more grueling than what they go through during games. When coaches tell players, "Compared to practice, the game will be fun," they aren't kidding.
Though spectators and viewers think of games as the dangerous part of football, because it's during games that injuries are widely seen -- coaches whom I have interviewed think players are more likely to be injured at a practice than during a game. Partly this is simply because players spend so much more time practicing than performing, meaning more hours of risk.
At first glance, the ongoing lawsuit between the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and Gannett Newspapers might seem like the Iran-Iraq War, or a Bears-Vikings game -- fans of neither side might wonder if both could lose.
The WIAA, the sanctioning body for Wisconsin high school athletics, sued Gannett after The Post~Crescent live-streamed several football playoff games in 2008. If a media organization wants to broadcast or stream postseason games, it must get the WIAA's permission, pay a fee, and adhere to various other rules:Internet blogs, forums, tweets and other text depictions or references are permitted and are not subject to rights fees unless they qualify as play-by-play (see definition below) or are not in compliance with the media policies of the WIAA. Play-by-play accounts of WIAA Tournament Series events via text are subject to text transmission rights fees.
In the spring of that hard year, 1968, the Columbia University crew coach, Bill Stowe, explained to me that there were only two kinds of men on campus, perhaps in the world--Jocks and Pukes. He explained that Jocks, such as his rowers, were brave, manly, ambitious, focused, patriotic and goal-driven, while Pukes were woolly, distractible, girlish and handicapped by their lack of certainty that nothing mattered as much as winning. Pukes could be found among "the cruddy weirdo slobs" such as hippies, pot smokers, protesters and, yes, former English majors like me.
I dutifully wrote all this down, although doing so seemed kind of Puke-ish. But Stowe was such an affable ur-Jock, 28 years old, funny and articulate, that I found his condescension merely good copy. He'd won an Olympic gold medal, but how could I take him seriously, this former Navy officer who had spent his Vietnam deployment rowing the Saigon River and running an officers' club? Not surprisingly, he didn't last long at Columbia after helping lead police officers through the underground tunnels to roust the Pukes who had occupied buildings during the antiwar and antiracism demonstrations.
The Ivy League will announce on Wednesday that, in an effort to minimize head injuries among its football players, it will sharply reduce the number of allowable full-contact practices teams can hold.
The changes, to be implemented this season, go well beyond the rules set by the N.C.A.A. and are believed to be more stringent than those of any other conference. The league will also review the rules governing men's and women's hockey, lacrosse and soccer to determine if there are ways to reduce hits to the head and concussions in those sports.
The new rules will be introduced as a growing amount of research suggests that limiting full-contact practices may be among the most practical ways of reducing brain trauma among football players. According to a study of three Division I college teams published last year in the Journal of Athletic Training, college players sustain more total hits to the head in practices than in games.
Wisconsin union protests may not be national front page news, but as its model is picked up nationwide, educators worry as childrens programs are cut while football coaches continue to earn big bucks.
In Wisconsin, educators worry about children's programs like Headstart being trimmed, and feared cut, as well the breakfast programs for hungry children being eliminated, as football coaches get first rank in the hiring and firing parades.
The FASEB Journal examines the problems of education, as the editor wonders, as educators do, what has happened to education and the value placed on it in the decisions made by politicians. He uses some of what happened in Wisconsin as a model to look at this issue. The Journal points out the United States will continue to pedal backwards in relationship to the accomplishments of other countries, as children fall further and further behind youngsters of comparable ages in other countries. Right now only Luxembourg , among the developed countries, is the only one that pays less per child on education than the United States.
College basketball doesn't get any more glamorous than it does at North Carolina, a school that boasts one of the sport's most prestigious programs. On this campus, the basketball players are lords of the manor.
But this spring, Carolina's men's team has started a new tradition, one that stands in sharp contrast to the booming prominence of the sport.
Since they bowed out of the NCAA's Elite Eight last month, members of North Carolina's Tar Heels have been showing up a campus dormitory courts to play five-on-five pickup basketball games with students. We caught up with some of the players at a recent session.
Since they bowed out in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight last month, the players have been killing time before finals exams by showing up at outdoor courts at campus dormitories to play five-on-five pick-up games with students--just for fun. To make sure they draw a crowd, the players announce their plans beforehand on Twitter.
On a cloudless afternoon last week, five Carolina players showed up to the outdoor court at Granville Towers. As spectators in sunglasses and sundresses dangled their legs over the brick walls, a pack of would-be student challengers in sneakers and t-shirts made a beeline to the free-throw line, where the first five to sink shots would earn the right to play.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ushered in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament earlier this month with an op-ed in The Washington Post arguing that schools should only qualify for post-season play if they are on track to graduate at least 40 percent of their players.
The argument by Duncan, who is a basketball player and fan himself, has been made by many critics, including the Knight Commission for Intercollegiate Athletics, which proposed restricting participation to only those programs that graduated more than half of their players. And rightfully so: men's college basketball does a poor job of graduating its players, with 10 of the original 68 teams in the tournament not meeting the "50 percent" benchmark this year. This leaves players who don't go professional -- the vast majority of them -- without the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the real world. Many sportswriters and fans, on the other hand, think that Duncan's viewpoint is out of touch --and that critics of NCAA basketball and football need to come to grips with the fact that, for many athletes who play for hugely popular athletics programs, the sport is simply more important than the degree.
When Heriberto Avila lost his leg as a result of an accident during a high school wrestling match in January, he and his family could have started calling lawyers. They could have turned bitter or angry.
But on the day Heriberto, a Belvidere North High School senior known as Eddie, woke up in a hospital bed and tearfully struggled to deal with the shock that his left leg had been amputated, he reminded his family and his pastor, who were in the room with him, that he was not the only one who needed solace.
He was worried about his wrestling opponent, Sean McIntrye, a senior at Genoa-Kingston High School, whose legal take-down had caused the broken bones and the rupture in a blood vessel that led to the amputation.
Sony Michel is still a high school freshman, yet he has shown flashes of Hall of Fame potential. A tailback for American Heritage in Plantation, Fla., Michel has rushed for 39 touchdowns and nearly 3,500 yards in two varsity seasons.
"He's on par to be Emmitt Smith, on par to be Deion Sanders, on par to be Jevon Kearse," said Larry Blustein, a recruiting analyst for The Miami Herald who has covered the beat for 40 years. "He'll be one of the legendary players in this state."
Michel's recruitment will also be a test case for a rapidly evolving college football landscape. The proliferation of seven-on-seven nonscholastic football has transformed the high school game, once defined by local rivalries, state championships and the occasional all-star game, into a national enterprise.
The University of Wisconsin Athletic Department had its operating budget request of $88.368 million for 2011-12 approved without rancor or debate Friday.
Members of the UW Athletic Board voted unanimously to allow the department to spend $5.29 million more than its current operating budget of $83.219 million, an increase designed primarily to address two major capital projects.
The matter-of-fact process and calm pulse of the meeting was in contrast to the mood at the Capitol, where protesters, controversy and edgy rhetoric defined a state budget crisis.
Asked to weigh the two developments, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez acknowledged that sooner or later they will become one.
I'm certain many of you read (or heard) about Milwaukee Hamilton star basketball player Elgin Cook's sudden departure from the team. I'm also certain you heard his mother has taken him out of state fearing for her son's life due to his (alleged) role in what led to the Milwaukee King basketball player being shot. If not, click here to read the story on jsonline.
My comments aren't going to address the drama Cook and the other boy got themselves caught up in. I'm focused on a tragedy that continues to occur with the Black Student-Athlete over and over in Milwaukee Public Schools. I'm sick and tired of reading and hearing about OUR BEST (and average) student-athletes being academically ineligible before, during and after the sports season. What the hell is going on when kids who are being offered scholarships to play in college cannot maintain a simple 2.0 gpa?
Let's look at Cook for a moment. In the jsonline article, it mentions that he missed the first 3 games of this season due to being academically ineligible. Yet, in October he signed a letter of intent to accept a scholarship to play basketball at Iowa State. How is this possible? It's one thing for OUR kids to be lacking the grades and preparation for higher learning, but it is another thing when large colleges and universities know they aren't ready but bring them in anyway.
As college football's 2011 recruiting classes took shape last week, much of the talk was dominated by the usual question: Which team pulled in the richest talent haul? Some say it was Alabama, others Florida State.
What was not acknowledged, or even noted, was the impressive and unusual incoming class assembled by Stanford.
The school, which is coming off its best football season in 70 years, didn't land the most physically talented class of high school football players. The consensus says their crop ranks somewhere around No. 20 in the nation among all the major college programs. What stands out about Stanford's class is something entirely different: what superior students they are.
Wayne Lyons, a four-star defensive back from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who has a 4.96 weighted grade-point average and likes to build robots in his spare time, is widely considered the best student among the nation's elite recruits. When he visited Stanford, he said he was whisked to a seminar on building jet engines and to a facility where robots are built.
From his office window, Steve Williams surveyed the chaos of construction. His view consisted of rocks and dirt beneath bulldozers and cranes, but where others might see excess, he saw something brazen, bold and gloriously Texan.
The $60 million football stadium at Allen High School, where Williams is the district athletic director, was starting to take shape.
This is no ordinary stadium, in no ordinary state, where football ranks near faith and family. Super Bowl XLV will take place a short drive southwest next Sunday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, but while the "big game" will repeatedly highlight football's oversize importance in Texas, the folks in Allen need no reminders. Here, every game is big.
Williams -- Bubba to his friends -- arrived long before the boom, when Allen was more speck than sprawl, and now he cannot fathom all the fuss over this stadium, the calls from England, the Pacific Northwest, New York.
A Wisconsin case that could have nationwide implications for how reporters cover and how parents watch high school sports is making its way through the courts, with crucial constitutional arguments taking place Friday in federal court in Chicago.
The case pits community newspapers against the association that oversees high school sports in Wisconsin. Fans in many states rely on community newspapers for news about high school teams, and the newspapers say they need easy, unencumbered access to sporting events to provide that coverage. But the association says it can't survive if it can't raise money by signing exclusive contracts with a single video-production company for streaming its tournaments.
The newspapers argued Friday before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of press should enable them to put such publicly funded events online as they see fit, free of charge.
The case began in 2008, when the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association sued The Post-Crescent of Appleton after it streamed live coverage of high school football playoff games. After a U.S. District judge sided with the association last year, saying its exclusive deal with a video production company didn't impinge on freedom of the press, the newspaper's owner, Gannett Co., and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association appealed.
Myles Henry had no idea what his future held. The former Nicolet standout was struggling with his ACT scores last summer and his collegiate choices were limited.
Russell Finco was equally confused. The former Arrowhead standout went to St. Cloud State in June to begin a football career. But Finco suffered the latest in a string of concussions, was told to quit football and was in limbo.
Neither player ever dreamed he'd wind up being part of the postgraduate basketball program at St. John's Northwestern. Today, both are thrilled to be Lancers.
St. John's began a basketball program this season for high school graduates who have the potential to play collegiately but need an extra year of preparation. The student-athletes retain all their collegiate eligibility and get an extra year to improve their games and their grades.
Pat Hill came cheap when he broke into college football coaching a little more than 3½ decades ago.
He worked his first job at a California community college without pay, making ends meet by moonlighting Tuesdays and Thursdays as a pinsetter at a bowling alley and Fridays and Saturdays, when football allowed, as a bouncer. He lived for a while in his Chevy van.
"I've never been a monetary guy," he says.
The contract that will take him into his 15th season as head coach at Fresno State offers further testament.
Hill will take a more than $300,000 cut in guaranteed pay in 2011, an extraordinary concession to a school budget stretched thin by the troubled economy. His guaranteed take of $650,000 remains considerable, but he'll have to cash in heavily on incentives to match, or even approach, his nearly seven-figure earnings in 2010.
The Dec 8 event involving 200 females from six Jeddah private high schools broke ministry rules against girls' sports in schools, a ministry official said.
"We don't have any regulations that say that it's OK for girls' schools to hold sports classes or training," said Ahmed Al-Zahrani, director of girls' education in Jeddah.
"This tournament was held by these schools, something that has now led us to know about their illegal activities," he said.
A Kansas coroner confirmed Thursday that the brain injury that killed Spring Hill High School football player Nathan Stiles on Oct. 29 came from a part of the 17-year-old's brain that had bled earlier this year.
Michael Handler, the Johnson County corner and a neuropathologist, informed the Stiles family Thursday that the exact cause of death was a subdural hematoma, which Nathan Stiles likely suffered Oct. 1 during Spring Hill's game against Ottawa.
"[Handler] said it was a perfect example of a subdural hematoma," Connie Stiles said. "You could see where his brain had been healing. You could see where it was starting to get better. It seems like everything can be traced back to that first hit. That's what he thinks."
The morning after the Ottawa game is when Stiles, Spring Hill's homecoming king and team captain, first began complaining of headaches. Five days later Connie Stiles took her son to Olathe Medical Center, where he underwent a CT scan and was diagnosed with a concussion.
Maybe the IRS actually knows what it is doing. With any luck, they can look at the overwhelming number of athletic departments that are not earning a profit and realize that removing the NCAA's tax-exempt status would only have a nominal return. Perhaps the IRS realizes that the nominal return that such a tax would generate would have such a sweeping effect on collegiate athletics that it may actually hurt schools more than it would help. Whether they realize this or do not want to overturn a long-lived precedent, the IRS has not fumbled its duty concerning the tax-exempt status of the NCAA. At this point, there is no reason to disrupt the current tax-exempt status of the NCAA, and there is no evidence that points to a change being necessary in the near future.
Today, The Boston Globe published the latest in a long series of special "All-Scholastics" 14-page (12x22-inch) supplements on good local high school athletes from a variety of sports. These celebrations are produced three times a year (42 pages) with lots of pictures and little bios and lists of all-stars from the Boston area.
Again this Fall, there was no room for any mention by The Boston Globe of any noteworthy academic achievement by local students at the high school level. Christiane Henrich of Marblehead HS, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, wrote a 7,360-word Emerson-prize-winning history research paper on the quality (good for the day) of U.S. Civil War medicine. It was published in the only journal in the world for the academic papers of secondary students...No room in The Boston Globe for that to be mentioned. She is now at Stanford and doesn't mind, but I mind about all the Boston-area students who are fed a constant diet of praise for athletic achievement by their peers and at the same time are starved of any and all news of the academic achievements of their peers.
In fact, over the years I have published a good number of exemplary history papers by high school students from the Boston area and they did not and do not get mentioned in The Boston Globe, nor do the academic achievements of our high school students in foreign languages (e.g. National Latin Exam, etc.), AP subject tests in Calculus, Chemistry, European history or in any other field, receive any notice from the Globe.
International competitions reveal that we are below average in Reading, Math and Science. Perhaps we should just explain that we don't care about that stuff as much as we do about swimming, soccer, cross-country, football, golf, field hockey, and volleyball, because achievement by our high school students in those efforts are what we really like to pay attention to, (not that academic stuff), at least when it comes to The Boston Globe.
The Boston Globe (and its subscribers) are, in this way, sending a constant stream of clear messages (42 pages at a time in supplements, not to mention regular daily columns on HS sports) that in Boston (The Athens of America) what we care about is kids doing well in sports. If they do well in academics we don't think that is worth mentioning. Sick, sad, and self-destructive, but there we are.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
The majority of children participating in organized team-sports don't meet the federal recommendation of one hour a day of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, according to a study released Monday.
Federal-government guidelines recommend children and teens get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day. It is estimated that fewer than half of children and only about 10% of teenagers meet that goal.
Many parents might believe if their children participate in team sports, then they must be getting enough exercise. Researchers at San Diego State and the University of California, San Diego, showed that isn't necessarily the case.
The researchers looked at sports practices involving 200 children ranging in age from 7 to 14 years old, who were participants on a soccer, baseball or softball team in San Diego County. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published online Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to end ring-fenced funding for school sports "quite frankly flew in the face" of the UK's commitment to a lasting sports legacy after the 2012 Olympic Games, Labour has claimed.
Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham said there was widespread disbelief over Mr Gove's £162 million cut in sports funding for English state schools.
And he seized on an Observer report that suggested Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had expressed concerns in Cabinet over the decision.
Mr Gove has insisted that overall spending in schools has increased and it is up to headteachers to decide their own priorities.
But Mr Burnham told Sky News' Sunday Live: "I remember the 1980s when school sports dried up and when I worked in government I was on a mission to rebuild it and that's what we've done in the last 10 years.
Arrowhead High School will pay for girls lacrosse and alpine skiing programs following an investigation by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, according to documents provided to the Journal Sentinel.
It was the second such major investigation into how the Waukesha County high school treats the athletic interests of boys and girls, protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, in the last four years.
According to an Oct. 29 letter from Jeffrey Turnbull with the OCR's Chicago office, the federal government concluded "that the District is not currently fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of its girls."
The fans in the home team rooting section were stunned when visiting Don Bosco Prep called a timeout with about two minutes remaining in the first half in an attempt to regain possession of the football.
Their version of "Friday Night Lights" was devolving into Friday Night Spite, a rerun of the 71-0 shellacking they had witnessed the year before. And when Bosco quarterback Gary Nova hit a receiver over the middle, in full stride, for an 80-yard touchdown with no time on the clock, the Clifton High School fans responded in full-throated frustration.
The booing started and someone yelled, "bush league," and another fan sarcastically encouraged Bosco to go for a 2-point conversion.
Instead, Bosco kicked the extra point and settled for a 48-0 halftime lead.
Political scientist Barry Rubin has an interesting column criticizing the modern tendency to teach kids that playing to win is bad:My son is playing on a local soccer team which has lost every one of its games, often by humiliating scores. The coach is a nice guy, but seems an archetype of contemporary thinking: he tells the kids not to care about whether they win, puts players at any positions they want, and doesn't listen to their suggestions.
He never criticizes a player or suggests how a player could do better. My son, bless him, once remarked to me: "How are you going to play better if nobody tells you what you're doing wrong?" The coach just tells them how well they are playing. Even after an 8-0 defeat, he told them they'd played a great game.
And of course, the league gives trophies to everyone, whether their team finishes in first or last place.....
[A]m I right in thinking that sports should prepare children for life, competition, the desire to win, and an understanding that not every individual has the same level of skills? A central element in that world is rewarding those who do better, which also offers an incentive for them and others to strive....
Then came football.
Stevenson spent $500,000 this year to create an intercollegiate team from scratch, largely as a means to fill the campus with tuition-paying men. The program has drawn 130 players, raising the male share of the freshman class from 34 to 39 percent in a single year at the 3,075-student university.
The suburban Baltimore school is one of at least a dozen small, private colleges in the United States that have added or rebuilt football programs in the past three years, usually with the dual purpose of feeding the bottom line and narrowing the gender gap.
For many small, regional colleges facing a bleak admissions landscape, the gridiron is a beacon of hope. The college-age population is leveling off. The economy is sluggish. Private colleges must offer ever-larger tuition discounts to fill the freshman class.
Credit Cal with taking up a third-rail topic: the runaway costs of college sports. After trimming academics, the campus heeded an outcry and ordered up a study on its athletic department.
The fix-it suggestions include the usual: more fundraising, better management and a call for thrift in the face of a $10 million-and-rising yearly deficit. There's another idea in the report written by alumni and faculty leaders: Consider cutting five to seven teams from Berkeley's roster of 27 sports squads.
Campus higher-ups may make a decision within the next two weeks on cutting teams. If it happens, it will be an emotional, complicated but necessary calculation. Sports knit the campus together. Headlines and broadcasts give Cal visibility. Check-writing alums start out donating to athletics, but later contribute bigger sums to academic causes and building projects. These benefits can't be ignored.
Count college sports among the sagging economy's latest victims.
A newly released NCAA report shows that just 14 of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools made money from campus athletics in the 2009 fiscal year, down from 25 the year before.
Researchers blame the sagging economy and suggested that next year's numbers could be even worse.
The research was done by accounting professor Dan Fulks of Transylvania University, a Division III school in Lexington, Ky. It shows the median amount paid by the 120 FBS schools to support campus athletics grew in one year from about $8 million to more than $10 million.
University of Wisconsin athletic officials are asking for a $76.8 million athletic performance center in the next two-year state budget, just five years after a $109.5-million expansion of Camp Randall Stadium.
The UW System Board of Regents will review the request, which does not involve any tax dollars, Thursday.
The proposal includes a new multistory building used primarily for football with new locker rooms and weight training facilities. The Regents agreed to a similar $67.2 million plan in the last budget cycle two years ago, but it was spiked by state officials in the approval process.
The proposal includes money to update the sound system and scoreboards at Camp Randall, add new locker rooms for other athletic teams and replace the FieldTurf installed six seasons ago.
The McClain Center, where several teams now practice, also would be updated.
The new facility would be located north of Camp Randall between the Lot 17 parking ramp and the adjacent complex for the UW School of Engineering.
"A whole new facility would really bring this program to a top-notch level where you could say it's second to none," quarterback Scott Tolzien said. "We'd have the locker room right there, the stadium right here and all those facilities literally just footsteps away. I think that would be huge with recruiting and with trying to raise this program to the next level."
If you received a scouting report from high school football coaches on the economy and its impact on their sport, it would read a little like this: It's about the same as last year, but we seem to be making wiser spending decisions.
Things don't seem to be as gloomy as months ago, when head coaches were being released because of layoffs. Then again, no one is quite ready to claim victory and predict an economic turnaround.
"It's too early to see what the impact of all these things is going to be," said Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the Georgia High School Association.
Natalie Randolph is scheduled to start workouts Friday at Coolidge Senior High School in Washington, D.C. She spent Thursday observing the Washington Redskins' training camp.
High school sports are becoming increasingly popular with teens, and with that comes injuries. A new study reveals that fractures are not to be taken lightly. They are they fourth-most-common injury and can cause players to drop out of competition and rack up medical procedures.
The study, published recently in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at fractures that occurred among high school athletes at 100 randomly selected high schools around the country from 2005 to 2009. The injuries were categorized to determine who gets them, what causes them and what effect they may have.
Fractures were the fourth-most-common injury after ligament sprains, muscle strains and bruises. Football had the highest fracture rate, and volleyball had the lowest. Fractures happened more often during competition than in practice for every sport except volleyball.
It's another sign of private money shaking up public education in the District: A $5.5 million gift will dramatically help expand a network of high-performing charter schools in the city, with a goal of more than doubling the number of students enrolled by 2015.
The grant by Venture Philanthropy Partners, a nonprofit organization using the principles of venture-capital investment to help children from low-income families in the Washington region, will fund Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) schools. The grant is to be announced Monday.
"VPP recognized our ability to impact not just the students we have, but the students throughout D.C.," said Allison Fansler, president and chief operating officer of KIPP DC. "We want to set a high bar for what's possible."
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Association is grumbling about the decision to send the school's basketball players, staff and some guests on a trip to Italy next month.
The association - the same organization that backed a $25 per student per semester fee to raise money to renovate the Klotsche Center or build a new arena - argues this is no time to be heading overseas while the Athletic Department has a deficit as high as $8 million.
The trip is expected to cost $160,000.
"The fact that the UWM Athletics Department continues to spend outside of its means is troubling. The department simply cannot afford to go on such an extravagant trip regardless of where the money is from," said Travis Romero-Boeck, president of the Student Association.
A handful of administrators at the University of California are spearheading an effort to create an ambitious online educational program for undergraduates. The idea is that UC could become the first top-tier American university to offer a bachelor's degree over the Internet. It's a thought-provoking, fascinating and innovative concept. It's also a highly risky experiment.
Online education has a place - even in the university system. For students, it's impossible to beat the convenience and the accessibility of online learning. For workers, it can be a great way to expand their knowledge base without having to leave their jobs. Corporations, small businesses, even traffic schools - all of these institutions have shown that there's a positive place for online education in our society.
But that doesn't mean that the UC should jump into the fray.
We come not to praise or bury LeBron James, but only to note that by moving to Miami he's going to save a bundle on taxes. We'll take the King of ESPN's word that he's jumping to the Miami Heat from the Cleveland Cavaliers mainly for basketball reasons, but it is also true that Florida has no income tax. The rate in Akron, Ohio is a little over 7%
Mr. James figures to earn close to $100 million in salary over five seasons in Miami. According to an analysis by Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University, Mr. James's net present value tax savings on his salary are between $6 million and $8 million by living in Miami versus his home town of Akron. Professional athletes do have to pay other state taxes for the dates they play in visiting team arenas, but most of Mr. James's considerable endorsement income would be taxed at Florida rates.
The tax comparisons looked even worse for two other teams in the LeBron bidding, the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. The New York Post estimated that New York City and state taxes of 12.85% on high income earners would have taken more than $12 million from Mr. James. New Jersey's rate is nearly 9%. Both of those teams are lousy, but it can't help their free-agent sales pitch to start out $9 billion to $12 billion in the after-tax hole.
The NCAA has a message for would-be college athletes hoping to use online courses to bolster their high school transcripts: proceed with caution.
The organization announced Tuesday that it will stop accepting course credit from two virtual schools based in Utah and Illinois as part of a move to strengthen high school eligibility standards in Division I.
That means no more high school credit from Brigham Young University's independent study program. The school in Provo, Utah, has previously been targeted by NCAA investigators and federal prosecutors pursuing claims of academic fraud at Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi, Nicholls State and Barton County Community College in Kansas.
Also on the prohibited list is the American School, a correspondence program based in Lansing, Ill.
New NCAA rules approved last month require "regular access and interaction" between teachers and students in the 16 core courses required to establish initial eligibility for new college athletes.
You know what would be, like, a total buzzkill? Signing a scholarship to play collegiate basketball at a major institution, making good on your end of the commitment, and then finding out after a year -- or two or three -- that, hey, thanks for coming, but we kind of need that scholarship for someone vastly more talented now. Would you mind transferring? This is where we the school will kindly remind you that your scholarship is a one-year, merit-based, renewable document, and we are under no obligation to extend it for another year should we choose not to. Any questions?
Harsh, bro. Harsh. The practice of sending players away via transfer to make room for scholarships is called a runoff, and it happens more frequently than it should -- which is to say it shouldn't happen at all.
Typically, runoff players transfer quietly, moving on from their schools with little protest. Sometimes, though, a player or a player's family gets angry about what they see as a raw deal. Sometimes they talk to the media. These are important moments; they draw the curtain back on one of college basketball's most unfair, exploitative policies, and they're worth discussing when they arrive.
Last year's biggest such moment came when Kentucky coach John Calipari oversaw the transfer of seven players leftover from Billy Gillispie's tenure at the school. Several of those players publicly claimed they forced out of the program, while Calipari insisted that he merely told those players they likely wouldn't get much playing time if they decided to stay at UK.
Sports: swimming, tennis, soccer
Swimming highlights: John is a four-time letterwinner and two-year captain at East. He was a member of three state-qualifying relays his senior year. He earned All-State honorable mention for the 200 freestyle relay, which tied for seventh at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. He also swam on the 200 medley relay (16th) and 400 freestyle relay (13th). He earned Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Academic All-State honors and the team's Purgolder Award for leadership his senior year. He was an alternate at state as a junior and named the team's Most Improved Swimmer his freshman year.
Other sports highlights: John is a four-year member of the Purgolders' JV tennis team as a doubles player. As a senior, he is playing No. 1 doubles with Aaron Lickel and they have a 15-4 record. He earned a varsity letter as a sophomore when was an alternate for East at the state tournament. He played soccer as a freshman and on the JV team as a senior.
Mike Lipp is athletic director at Madison's West High School. Previously, he was a science teacher at the school for 20 years, and coached swimming, soccer and baseball. He also was a science teacher in DeForest for 15 years.
Lipp, 59, this month began a one-year term as president of the teacher unit of Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents teachers, related professionals and school support personnel. His grandmother and father-in-law were union members and he was in the United Auto Workers during a summer when he was a graduate student.
In your personal finances, what would you do if your expenses exceeded your revenue?
That happens in several levels, when you get a mortgage or when you get a car loan. I have never bought a car with cash. ... Personally, you can operate in the red but governments have to operate in the black. It's a funny system.
If I were looking for people who had done much to curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs, I think I might take Arnold Schwarzenegger over Bud Selig. Apparently, the Taylor Hooton Foundation thinks differently.NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig was named the first recipient of Taylor's Award, presented by the Taylor Hooton Foundation to an individual who has made a major impact on efforts to educate and protect American youth from the dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Flag football, long relegated to family picnics and gym class, has quietly become one of the fastest-growing varsity sports for high school girls in Florida. A decade after it was introduced, nearly 5,000 girls play statewide -- a welcome development in a state that, like others, has struggled to close the gender gap in high school athletics.
Jupiter High School's Megan Higgins facing Dwyer High School in a game in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Flag football has become one of the fastest-growing varsity sports in Florida.
But rather than applaud the new opportunities, some women's sports advocates call it a dead-end activity. Flag football is played only at the club and intramural level in colleges, and unless one counts the Lingerie Football League, no professional outlets exist. Alaska is the only other state that considers it a varsity sport.
"No one is saying flag football isn't a great sport to play," said Neena Chaudhry, the senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, which has brought several cases against high schools alleging violations of Title IX, the federal law mandating gender equity in education. "But I do think it's relevant to ask questions about whether girls are getting the same kind of educational opportunities as boys."
De La Salle and Foreman High Schools battled for the 4A state basketball sectional semifinals March 10 in a packed Maywood gym, but in many ways, the most interesting action was unfolding in the north bleachers. There, two rows up from the floor, Daniel Poneman held court in his usual fashion.
Every few moments, Mr. Poneman stood up to greet someone he knew, and by the end of the evening, it seemed as if he had exchanged handshakes and hugs with half of those in attendance. The gym was one giant flowchart before him. Even as Mr. Poneman tracked the action, a recruiter from Purdue, a local basketball legend, and a former Foreman coach who has since moved to Niles North High School all passed -- very noticed -- before Mr. Poneman's well-trained eyes.
"I really wouldn't call him a scout," said Nate Pomeday, an assistant coach at Oregon State. "I would call him more of a professional networker."
Check out at the boys' basketball rosters for Friendship Collegiate and the Kamit Institute for Magnificent Achievers and the number of transfers on each team is striking. Nearly all of the players on both rosters started their high school careers elsewhere before transferring to one of the two D.C. public charter schools.
"We're cleaning up, we're the last stop," KIMA Coach Levet Brown said. "Do you think I could get a Eugene McCrory if he was doing well somewhere else?"
Indeed, McCrory -- who has committed to play for Seton Hall and was selected to play in the Capital Classic -- attended C.H. Flowers and Parkdale in Prince George's County and Paul VI Catholic in Fairfax during his first three years of high school.
Good morning. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan must be fairly pleased with the NCAA tournament results so far. Of the 12 teams he branded as unworthy of being in the tourney because of their graduation rates, eight have been knocked off.
Gone from the "Dirty Dozen" that didn't meet Duncan's standard of at least a 40% grad rate: Arkansas-Pine Bluff (29%), California (20%), Clemson (37%), Georgia Tech (38%), Louisville (38%), Maryland (8%), Missouri (36%), New Mexico State (36%).
Still alive in the Sweet 16: Baylor (36%), Kentucky (31%), Tennessee (30%), Washington (29%). Washington will be an underdog to West Virginia, as will be Tennessee to Ohio State. Baylor will be favored over St. Mary's, and the most interesting matchup of the minds will be Kentucky, facing the Ivy League's Cornell.
For the fifth consecutive year, Inside Higher Ed presents its Academic Performance Tournament - a unique look at what the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Men's Basketball Tournament would look like if teams advanced based solely on their outcomes in the classroom.
The winners were determined using the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate, a nationally comparable score that gives points to teams whose players stay in good academic standing and remain enrolled from semester to semester. When teams had the same Academic Progress Rates, the tie was broken using the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate - which, unlike the federal rate, considers transfers and does not punish teams whose athletes leave college before graduation if they leave in good academic standing.
The football players at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School, Mayor Adrian Fenty and a room full of cheering staff needed only one word to describe her: coach.
Natalie Randolph, a 29-year-old biology and environmental sciences teacher, was introduced Friday as the coach of the school's Coolidge Colts. She's believed to be the nation's only female head coach of a high school varsity football team.
"While I'm proud to be part of what this all means," Randolph said, "being female has nothing to do with it. I love football. I love football, I love teaching, I love these kids. My being female has nothing to do with my support and respect for my players on the field and in the classroom."
The news conference drew the kind of attention usually reserved for the Washington Redskins and was delayed nearly two hours so Fenty, who is up for re-election this year, could be there and proclaim "Natalie Randolph Day" in the city.
The Concord Review
February 3, 2010
I got a call the other day from the head football coach at one of the larger state universities.
He said, after the usual greetings, "I've got some real problems."
"Like what?" I asked.
"The players I am getting now are out of shape, they don't know how to block or tackle, then can't read the playbook and they can't follow their assignments."
"That does sound bad. What is your record this season?"
"The teams we play seem to have similar problems, so all our games are pretty sad affairs, ending in scoreless ties."
"Also," he told me, "During breaks in practice, most of them are text-messaging their friends, and almost half of them just drop out of college after a year or two !"
"Have you talked to any of the high school coaches who send you players?"
"No, I don't know them."
"Have you visited any of the high school games or practices?"
"No, I really don't have time for that sort of thing."
"Well, have you heard there is a big new push for Common National Athletic Standards?"
"No, but do you think that will help solve my problems? Are they really specific this time, for a change?"
"Absolutely," I said. "They want to require high school students, before they graduate, to be able to do five sit-ups, five pushups, and to run 100 yards without stopping. They also recommend that students spend at least an hour a week playing catch with a ball!"
"That is a start, I guess, but I don't think it will help me much with my problem. My U.S. players have just not been prepared at all for college football. I have a couple of immigrant kids, from Asia and Eastern Europe, who are in good shape, have been well coached at the secondary level, and they have a degree of motivation to learn and determination to do their best that puts too many of our local kids to shame."
"Well," I said, "what do you think of the idea of getting to know some of the coaches at the high schools which are sending you players, and letting them know the problems that you are having?"
"I could do that, I guess, but I don't know any of them, and we never meet, and I am really too busy at my level, when it comes down to it, to make that effort."
[If we were talking about college history professors, this would not be fiction. They do complain about the basic knowledge of their students, and their inability to read books and write term papers. But like their fictional coaching counterpart, they never talk to high school history teachers (they don't know any), they never visit their classrooms, and they satisfy themselves with criticizing the students they get from the admissions office. Their interest in National Common Academic Standards does not extend to their suggesting that high school students should read complete nonfiction books and write a serious research paper every year. In short, they, like the fictional head coach, don't really care if students are so poorly prepared for college that half of them drop out, and that most of them do not arrive on campus prepared to do college work. They are really too busy, you see...]
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
Consortium for Varsity Academics® 
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
If you haven't already, you should take the time to read Susan Troller's lively profile of Memorial High School drama coach and English teacher Tom Hardin. It's a great portrait of a man who's in top form, and he raises a thorny question about equity in extracurricular activities: should the faculty who direct the school plays and coach the forensics teams get as much support and pay as the coaches of the football and basketball teams?
If you read the story, you might be tempted to write Hardin off at first blush, as some commenters do. He's threatening to step down at the end of the school year leading drama as well as his position overseeing Memorial's first-rate forensics team. He says it's not fair that sports get far more attention and outside support, not to mention that their coaches get more money than those leading, say, drama.
It's not about the amount of money, he says, and in the great scheme of things, the difference in pay really isn't much -- not quite $1,300 a year. In certainly pales in comparison to the difference between what UW football coach Bret Bielema and university faculty members make.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan entered some of the most contentious debates in college sports on Thursday when, in a speech at the N.C.A.A. convention, he called for stricter consequences for college teams that do not graduate their athletes and said the N.B.A.'s age-minimum policy sets up young athletes for failure.
"Why do we allow the N.C.A.A, why do we allow universities, why do we allow sports to be tainted when the vast majority of coaches and athletic directors are striving to instill the right values?" said Duncan, who was a co-captain of his Harvard basketball team and played in an Australian professional league from 1987 until 1991.
He said his time as a college athlete was one of the most valuable periods of his life, but feared the N.B.A.'s age rule, which requires that a player be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from high school before entering the league, does a disservice to athletes.
Young people who were serious about table tennis used to have to make the trip to Beijing, Stockholm or Moscow to train with world-class coaches. Now they go no farther than the Silicon Valley suburb of Milpitas.
"I'm trying to become one of the greatest players in the nation," Srivatsav Tangirala, 14, says matter-of-factly between drills at the huge new table tennis facility in the suburb. He and three dozen players, some as young as five, sprint sideways along the edge of the tables, 45 times in a row, perfecting their footwork.
"Lean forward, lean, lean, lean, lean," their coach implores.
This is the largest training programme for youths in the country, run by the India Community Centre in a region that is 60 per cent Asian. Here, ping-pong parents who grew up with the sport in Sichuan province or Hyderabad are the new soccer mums and Little League dads.
They call this McCoy Country - or TuscolTa, with a Texas Longhorn "T" dropped in for good measure.
This tiny West Texas outpost is home to quarterback Colt McCoy. It doesn't matter that he's getting ready to lead his second-ranked Longhorns against No. 1 Alabama for the national title, or that his dad (a coach) moved the family for another job about the same time he left for Austin nearly five years ago.
"I don't go back probably as much as I should, but when I do I really enjoy it," McCoy said Sunday in Newport Beach, Calif., where the Longhorns are based this week. "There's a lot of down-to-earth people. They really keep in touch with me. They support me. That really is pretty neat.
"I wouldn't change where I came from at all."
It's evident his hometown loves McCoy right back.
Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports [182K PDF]:
Overall academic progress continued while the gap between white and African‐American football student‐athletes increased slightly for the 67* Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools (formerly known as Division I‐A schools) playing in this year's college football bowl games according to a study released today by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.
Richard Lapchick, the Director of TIDES and the primary author of the study Keeping Score When It Counts: Assessing the 2009‐10 Bowl‐bound College Football Teams - Academic Performance Improves but Race Still Matters, noted that, "The academic success of big time college student‐athletes that grew continuously under the leadership of the late Dr. Myles Brand continued this year and will be part of his legacy. The new study shows additional progress and reinforces the success of Dr. Brand's academic reform package. This year, 91 percent (61 of the 67 schools), the same as in the 2008‐09 report and up from 88 percent in the 2007‐08 report, had at least a 50 percent graduation rate for their football teams; approximately 90 percent of the teams received a score of more than 925 on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) versus 88 percent in the 2008‐09 report."
The NCAA created the APR in 2004 as part of an academic reform package designed to more accurately measure student‐athlete's academic success as well as improve graduation rates at member institutions.
Lapchick added that, "In spite of the good news, the study showed that the disturbing gap between white and African‐American football student‐athletes remains a major issue; 21 teams or 31 percent of the bowl‐bound schools graduated less than half of their African‐American football student‐athletes, while only two schools graduated less than half of their white football student‐athletes."
Betsey Stevenson [317K PDF]:
Previous research has found that male high school athletes experience better outcomes than non-athletes, including higher educational attainment, employment rates, and wages. However, students self-select into athletics so these may be selection effects rather than causal effects. To address this issue, I examine Title IX which provides a unique quasi- experiment in female athletic participation. Between 1972 and 1978 U.S. high schools rapidly increased their female athletic participation rates--to approximately the same level as their male athletic participation rates--in order to comply with Title IX. This paper uses variation in the level of boys' athletic participation across states before Title IX as an instrument for the change in girls' athletic participation over the 1970s. Analyzing differences in outcomes for both the pre- and post-Title IX cohorts across states, I find that a 10-percentage point rise in state-level female sports participation generates a 1 percentage point increase in female college attendance and a 1 to 2 percentage point rise in female labor force participation. Furthermore, greater opportunities to play sports leads to greater female participation in previously male-dominated occupations, particularly for high-skill occupations.
ata from the NCAA's most recent study on revenue and expenses [6MB PDF Complete Report] at Division I institutions show a slight moderation in the rate of spending in the aggregate within the division and a reduced growth in the gap between the so-called "haves" and "have-nots," though the gap continues to be wide.
The report summarizing Division I athletics program finances between 2004 and 2008 also reveals that 25 schools - all in the Football Bowl Subdivision - reported positive net revenue for the 2008 fiscal year, six more than in the 2006 fiscal year. Only 18 FBS institutions, however, have reported revenue over expenses when the data from all five years are aggregated.
The findings make NCAA officials cautiously optimistic that the advice from former NCAA President Myles Brand's Presidential Task Force three years ago to moderate spending is being heeded, though those same officials acknowledge that these data through the end of the 2008 fiscal year (June) do not reflect the subsequent economic downturn that may reveal a different story on spending in next year's report.
With a concussion, there is no obvious injury - no blood, no swelling, no arm at an awkward angle.
Coaches and athletic trainers have to look for subtle signs from an athlete, such as a shake of the head, a vacant expression or a long pause before a football player lines up for the next play.
Until the past few years, a student athlete in Mesquite might have gone back into the game after a quick assessment. But that's changing as officials realize how common concussions are and how profound their effects can be over time.
"If a kid suffers a concussion in Mesquite, they are going to miss a minimum of two weeks," said Bucky Taylor, Mesquite High School's head athletic trainer.
Few girls who play sports in suburban Philadelphia would recognize Robert H. Landau, but many coaches and athletic directors know that spotting him in the bleachers could spell trouble.
With a sharp tongue, a refusal to compromise and a well-honed sense of injustice, Landau is that familiar breed of community activist with a knack for pushing public officials over the edge. His specialty is girls' sports, and his targets are usually wealthy public schools from the Main Line suburbs that pride themselves on being progressive and fair in offering a rich array of opportunities.
No slight to girls is too small for Landau to take on. His victories range from the momentous to the less obvious, like forcing his daughters' school district to provide more athletic choices, pressuring leagues to showcase their title games and getting a school mascot to perform at their games.
Landau's complaint against Haverford High School -- over issues like publicity for and scheduling of boys' and girls' basketball games -- has upset even those who would otherwise support him.
Purists love to play the game, "Is that a sport?" They'll ask, is synchronized swimming really a sport? Is a dog show? Is poker? Is Ultimate Frisbee? And, the most controversial of all: Is cheerleading a sport?
But it isn't just the usual arguments that are raised when cheerleading is the issue. Cheerleading, you see, is deeply embroiled in gender politics, and given the demographics of college attendance, cheerleading is surely going to remain a flashpoint.
It all traces back to Title IX, the 1972 law which mandates that, in sports, athletic representation on campus must mirror student enrollment. As the percentage of collegians tilts more and more female, this means, simply enough, that some men's sports must be eliminated.
Today, at least 57 percent of all American college students are female, and that number is expected to rise. On average in college, there are already 8.7 women's teams for every 7.8 men's teams.
Faced with a federal lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, the Elmbrook School District has reversed an earlier decision and will allow students from both its high schools to join a girls ice hockey cooperative.
Brookfield Central High School freshman Morgan Hollowell and her father, James, sued the School District last month after it refused to join a cooperative with other school districts to offer girls ice hockey, even though the district participates in a similar cooperative for boys ice hockey.
At the time, Elmbrook Superintendent Matt Gibson said the district chose not to join the girls cooperative because too few students were interested in playing the sport and it would be difficult for the district to supervise.
Whether rallying the crowd at a sporting event or participating in competition, cheerleading can be both fun and physically demanding. Although integral to cheerleading routines, performing stunts can lead to injury. Stunt-related injuries accounted for more than half (60 percent) of U.S. cheerleading injuries from June 2006 through June 2007, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Published as a series of four separate articles on cheerleading-related injuries in the November issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, the study focused on general cheerleading-related injuries, cheerleading stunt-related injuries, cheerleading fall-related injuries and surfaces used by cheerleaders. Data from the study showed that nearly all (96 percent) of the reported concussions and closed-head injuries were preceded by the cheerleader performing a stunt.
"In our study, stunts were defined as cradles, elevators, extensions, pyramids, single-based stunts, single-leg stunts, stunt-cradle combinations, transitions and miscellaneous partner and group stunts," said author Brenda Shields, research coordinator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
How many concussions would you allow your child to suffer before you decided that perhaps he or she should retire from the travel soccer team?
In the past month alone, I have heard about several dozen injuries to young athletes, both on school and club teams, and I'm starting to wonder how so many families can be obsessed with sports to the point that a child's health suffers.
I've actually heard parents talk about their children's soccer concussions as if they were simple headaches: "He had another concussion last week but should be good to go soon." I know one child who has suffered at least three breaks in his hands from high school football and baseball. His parents know there could be long-term health consequences, but that is less important, somehow, than the glory of youth sports.
There was a story in The Washington Post this month about companies that have redesigned football helmets to cut down on concussions.
Jeremy Tyler came to this scenic city overlooking the Mediterranean as a trailblazer. As the first American basketball player to skip his senior year of high school to play professionally overseas, Tyler signed a $140,000 deal to play for Maccabi Haifa this year. The grand plan revolves around him being a top pick, if not the top pick, in the 2011 N.B.A. draft.
But after nearly three months of professional basketball in Israel's top division, Tyler is at a crossroads. Caught in a clash of cultures, distractions and agendas, he appears to be worlds away from a draft-night handshake with Stern, the N.B.A. commissioner.
Friends and family gathered today at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach to mourn the death of a 16-year-old honors student and track athlete who was gunned down as she and her friends were leaving a football game the night before.
Melody Ross, a junior in advanced-placement honors and a pole vaulter on the track team, was randomly hit by gunfire that also injured two young men, police said. It is not known if the shooting was gang-related. No arrests have been made.
Ross was identified by her uncle, Sam Che, who said their family emigrated to Southern California in the mid-1980s from Cambodia. "We escaped the killing fields," said Che, 36.
Ross was dressed as Supergirl for the homecoming game against Polytechnic High School that was attended by many other students in costume on the day before Halloween. Ross was "an innocent kid" said Mario Morales, the Wilson High football coach.
Every year, one or two high school football games bubble to national attention for the wrong reasons.
This year two Florida teams engaged in a battle -- if you can call it that -- where the final score was 82 to 0. Then, a few weeks later, the final score in another Florida game was 91 to 0. These are extreme examples, but every week, in nearly every state, teams win by 50 or 60 points.
What does a coach's halftime speech sound like when his team is losing in a blowout?
What if you were John Petrie, coach of the Plainville High School Cardinals in Plainville, Kan., a couple of seasons back, when, in a game against Smith Center he found his team down 72 to 0 in the first quarter?
Last weekend, two football teams faced off in a fierce divisional rivalry. Both boasted intimidating offenses built around sumo-sized linemen; half of the two teams' centers, guards and tackles tipped the scales above 300 pounds.
The teams aren't from the NFL. They aren't big-time colleges, or even Division II or III squads. They are the Central Texas high schools of McNeil and Cedar Park. The largest of their linemen is approaching 350 pounds.
Once a rarity, teenaged mega-players have become a common sight under the Friday night lights. "If you were to weigh the lines of high school football teams, they're significantly higher in recent years," said Brian Carr, a physical therapist and trainer at Georgetown High School. "Compared to just 15 years ago, there's a huge difference."
Doctors and trainers are reporting increases in certain injuries -- stress-related muscle and ligament tears, knee strains and foot fractures -- that can be directly attributed to the strains placed on developing bodies by extra bulk. Weight-related medical problems are also beginning to crop up among the giant teenagers.
The Binghamton University adjunct lecturer who accused the athletic department of giving preferential treatment to men's basketball players and pressuring her to change her grading policy for players was dismissed Tuesday.
The lecturer, Sally Dear, who taught human development for 11 years, said she felt the decision was linked to her criticism that appeared in a New York Times article in February.
Last Friday, as on all football Fridays at state champion Canadian High School, a black-and-gold flag flew along Main Street outside the City Drug Soda Fountain. A painted sign spelled out Wildcats on the window at Treasure's Beauty Salon. Up the street, at the Hemphill County Courthouse, Sally Henderson showed off the paw-print design on her black-and-gold fingernails.
Until a nail salon opened over the summer in this tiny, wealthy and ambitious Panhandle town, Henderson drove 45 miles to Pampa or 100 miles to Amarillo to have her nails done for football games and holidays.
"My husband is so glad I don't have to drive anymore," said Henderson, 52, a cheery administrative assistant to the county judge and the wife of the county sheriff. "I'd stop and do Wal-Mart, and every time I got my nails done, I'd spend $300."
Seattle Public Schools may do away with a nearly decade-old requirement that all students earn a C average to graduate, and an even-older policy that athletes maintain a C average to play on school teams.
If the School Board approves recommendations endorsed by Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, as well as most district high-school principals and counselors, a D average will be good enough to earn a high-school diploma. Student athletes would need to pass five of six classes with D grades or better.
District officials understand there are concerns about relaxing standards at a time when everyone from President Obama on down is pushing for higher expectations for U.S. students.
And when surveyed by the district last year, a majority of Seattle parents and students preferred to keep the C-average requirement.
But district officials, who plan to talk about the proposal at a School Board meeting tonight, insist they're not watering down expectations, and the change would mirror what most other districts require.
A new Texas law that could double the amount of academic credit high-school athletes receive for playing sports is stoking a long-standing debate in the Lone Star State about whether athletics should count the same as schoolwork.
Texas is unusual in that high-school sports aren't completely extracurricular. The state has long allowed students who are members of sports teams to take one athletics class during a normal school day, a period that can be filled with anything from watching game films and weight lifting to sitting in study hall.
The state formerly permitted high schoolers to apply only two credits -- or two years' worth -- of athletics classes toward the 26 credits needed to graduate. But a law passed by the Texas legislature in May effectively increased the number of such credits that can apply toward the degree to four.
Coaches and athletic directors welcomed the change, which they had sought from the Texas Board of Education for the past two years.
"We think it's a good idea to allow parents and kids to have some flexibility," said Robert Young, athletic director at Klein Independent School District.
The Texas State Teachers Association also supported the increase in athletics credits, saying it gives students more opportunities to take classes that interest them the most.
NPR is kicking off a new project Friday. Sports correspondents Tom Goldman and Mike are going to take the field with high school football teams across the country this season. They will go to practices and games, hit the weight room and sit in the stands with the boosters.
The Concord Review
13 August 2009
Today's Boston Globe has a good-sized article on "Hot Prospects,"--local high school football players facing "increasing pressure from recruiters to make their college decisions early."
That's right, it is not the colleges that are getting pressure from outstanding students seeking admission based on their academic achievement, it is colleges putting pressure on high school athletes to get them to "sign" with the college.
The colleges are required by the AAU to wait until the prospect is a Senior in high school before engaging in active recruiting including "visits and contact from college coaches," and, for some local football players the recruiting pressure even comes from such universities as Harvard and Stanford.
Perhaps Senior year officially starts in June, because the Globe reports that one high school tight end from Wellesley, Massachusetts, for example, "committed to Stanford in early June, ending the suspense of the region's top player."
The University of Connecticut "made an offer to" an athletic quarterback from Natick High School, "and a host of others, including Harvard and Stanford, are interested," says the Globe.
In the meantime, high school football players are clearly not being recruited by college professors for their outstanding academic work. When it comes to academic achievement, high school students have to apply to colleges and wait until the college decides whether they will be admitted or not. Some students apply for "Early Decision," but in that case, it is the college, not the athlete, who makes the decision to "commit."
Intelligent and diligent high school students who manage achievement in academics even at the high level of accomplishment of their football-playing peers who are being contacted, visited, and recruited by college coaches, do not find that they are contacted, visited, or recruited by college professors, no matter how outstanding their high school academic work may be.
In some other countries, the respect for academic work is somewhat different. One student, who earned the International Baccalaureate Diploma and had his 15,000-word independent study essay on the Soviet-Afghan War published in The Concord Review last year, was accepted to Christ Church College, Oxford, from high school. He reported to me that during the interview he had with tutors from that college, "they spent a lot of time talking to me about my TCR essay in the interview." He went on to say: "Oxford doesn't recognize or consider extra-curriculars/sports in the admissions process (no rowing recruits) because they are so focused on academics. So I thought it was pretty high praise of the Review that they were so interested in my essay (at that time it had not won the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize)."
There are many other examples from other countries of the emphasis placed on academic achievement and the lack of emphasis on sports and other non-academic activities, perhaps especially in Asian countries.
One young lady, a student at Boston Latin School, back from a Junior year abroad at a high school in Beijing, reported in the Boston Globe that: "Chinese students, especially those in large cities or prosperous suburbs and counties and even some in impoverished rural areas, have a more rigorous curriculum than any American student, whether at Charlestown High, Boston Latin, or Exeter. These students work under pressure greater than the vast majority of U.S. students could imagine...teachers encourage outside reading of histories rather than fiction."
That is not to say that American (and foreign) high school students who do the work to get their history research papers published in The Concord Review don't get into colleges. So far, ninety have gone to Harvard, seventy-four to Yale, twelve to Oxford, and so on, but the point is that, unlike their football-paying peers, they are not contacted, visited and recruited in the same way.
The bottom line is that American colleges and universities, from their need to have competitive sports teams, are sending the message to all of our high school students (and their teachers) that, while academic achievement may help students get into college one day, what colleges are really interested in, and willing to contact them about, and visit them about, and take them for college visits about, and recruit them for, is their athletic achievement, not their academic achievement. What a stupid, self-defeating message to keep sending to our academically diligent secondary students (and their diligent teachers)!!
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
Consortium for Varsity Academics® 
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA
On a hot day last August, Max Gilpin, a high-school sophomore from Louisville, Ky., collapsed during a preseason football practice. Three days later, he died from complications of heatstroke. His coach, Jason Stinson, was later indicted for reckless homicide in the first known criminal case of its kind.
With high-school football season set to get under way in many parts of the country next month, Max's story, which received widespread media attention, has spurred a nationwide debate about how far high schools should go to prevent heat-related injuries among their athletes.
Last month, the National Athletic Trainers' Association, which represents accredited trainers with a background in sports medicine, issued new heatstroke-prevention guidelines for high schools. These included recommendations to limit the duration and intensity of practice sessions early in the season and in hot weather.
When it comes to choosing the foods we eat, we have so many choices that it often becomes confusing. As Americans, we are blessed with almost every kind of food imaginable, available right next door at the supermarket. There are, however, some very specific foods that help improve athletic performance. The foods listed below are particular important to keep in your diet. The following foods, in alphabetical order, provide premium fuel for the active athlete.
In his 11 years as athletic director at the Honolulu's Punahou School Tom Holden never decorated his school's gym walls or outfield fences with championship banners. State titles, of which there have been 61 over the last four years, hold a place in Buff 'n Blue lore, but that's in the trophy case. "We just congratulate among ourselves," said Holden, who retired last Thursday. "Nothing public."
Punahou's 19 state titles during the 2008-09 school year were a nice retirement gift for Holden. Now he can add being named Sports Illustrated's top high school program for the second consecutive year. To come up with our top 10, as well as our top programs in each state, we looked for state championships and Division-I scholarship athletes and success on and off the field. Punahou was at the head of the class.
On the mainland, Jesuit High (Portland, Ore.), won seven state titles to rank just behind Punahou. Throughout the country and the District of Columbia, SI.com found schools that exemplified excellence in athletics during all seasons. Here is our top 10:
The issue of escalating compensation and rising ticket prices in professional sports has been around for years. But next month it could reach a boiling point when 21-year-old Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in this year's Major League Baseball draft, signs for at least $15 million. And that's just a bonus before salary is even discussed.
The blogosphere and radio call-in shows are already buzzing, with people saying things like "Man, the [Washington] Nationals" -- or whatever team ends up signing Mr. Strasburg -- "are sure going to have to raise prices to pay for this guy. You'll be lucky to afford a beer when you go out to the ballpark to see him pitch."
Well, if you can't afford to buy a beer at the ballpark then it didn't do the team much good to sign the player, did it? Sportswriters and radio guys delight in reminding fans that every time a team acquires an expensive player the cost of everything goes up. But that's just not the way economics works.
or some time, coaches have grumbled that the AAU's emphasis on building stars and playing games over practicing produces a lot of talented prospects who have great physical skills but limited knowledge of the fundamentals. Now some players are speaking out.I am no NBA fan, having attended my last game, in I think, 1972 - a Milwaukee Bucks playoff game. A one dimensional game is not all that interesting, particularly via sky high ticket prices.
By the middle of the last NBA season, as concerns build about his dwindling playing time and rough transition to the NBA, last year's No. 2 overall pick, Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat, finally conceded a fundamental flaw: No one, at any level in his basketball career, had asked him to play defense. And especially not in AAU. "If you're playing defense in AAU, you don't need to be playing," he says. "I've honestly never seen anyone play defense in AAU."
An AAU official declined to comment for this article.
The chorus of critics ranges from AAU player Alex Oriakhi, a McDonald's All-American center who plans to play for the University of Connecticut, who says shooting guards he's seen in AAU are in for a "rude awakening" to USA Basketball officials and NBA coaches.
Founded in 1888, the AAU's first goal was to represent American sports internationally. AAU teams blossomed in many sports, and the organization became a driving force in preparing Olympic athletes. In 1978, the Amateur Sports Act established a governing body for American Olympic sports, usurping the AAU's role as an Olympic launching pad. Its most notable sport today is basketball, where it counts Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James among its alumni.
In high schools in and around Washington, artificial turf is becoming an athletic status symbol.
Synthetic ballfields can be found at 10 public high schools in the District, seven in Anne Arundel County, four in Fairfax County and three in Arlington County. They have been installed at T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, Richard Montgomery High in Rockville, North Point High in Waldorf and a host of private and parochial schools. This summer and over the next school year, several more high schools will get artificial turf: Chesapeake and Old Mill in Anne Arundel, Lee in Fairfax, Bell-Lincoln in the District, and Walter Johnson and Montgomery Blair in Montgomery.
In most communities, the prospect of replacing real grass with plastic fiber and bits of shredded tire has prevailed with support from coaches and athletic boosters and little public dissent. But debate has emerged in Montgomery over such matters as how the turf deals were structured and whether tire crumbs from the fields might contaminate property nearby.
Tyler Peters has wrapped up his high school athletic career. Now he can only feel sympathy for his friends who are underclassmen at Coral Gables Senior High.
Across the country this spring, the recession has taken its toll on high school athletic programs. As states and school districts have tried to shore up their budgets, Florida has taken some of the most drastic steps.
The Florida High School Athletic Association is considering sweeping, two-year schedule changes with all sports except football canceling some matches, meets or games. The changes were approved earlier this year, but officials backed off the plan, saying they would take it up again at a later date.
A swimmer in high school, the 18-year-old Peters said he might have given it up if his season had been cut down.
The Cougars of Middle School 61 had a basketball game in the Bronx, but a half-hour before tipoff, six girls and Coach Bryan Mariner were still inching through traffic in Brooklyn.
A cellphone rang. It belonged to forward Tiffany Fields-Binning, who passed the phone to Mr. Mariner.
"You don't want her to go?" he said. He peered up at a street sign. "We're on Atlantic and Flatbush." He paused. "O.K. O.K. We'll wait here."
Mr. Mariner turned off the ignition. "Tiff-a-ny." He said her name slowly, like a sigh. "You didn't set this straight with your pop?"
Tiffany stared out a window.
Mr. Mariner turned and assessed the situation: "We've got five."
Five players. No substitutes.
Keith Hennig has a 3-year-old boy named Trevor and a 1-year-old named Brady. He wants to watch them grow up. Not in the brief moments between school and basketball practice. Not in the late-night hours when he would get home from a game or an open gym.
"I hate it during the winter season because I leave when it's dark out, and when I come home it's dark out," Hennig says. "It's almost depressing."
Long before he led the Kentwood High girls basketball team to the state championship in March, Hennig, only 32, had decided that it would be his last season. But Hennig discovered that, as with any addiction, it's one thing to decide to quit. It's quite another to go through with it.
For two weeks after the championship game, he walked past the state championship trophy every day and saw his girls in the halls at Kentwood, where he is a history teacher. He remembered all those moments that made the late nights and early mornings worth it. He was going through withdrawal.
One of the most eye-opening pieces of writing I've ever read is A Mathematician's Lament" How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form by Paul Lockhart. I've known Paul since our sons met when they were about eight years old, and I was so happy to hear that his essay (called a "gorgeous essay" by the Los Angeles Times) was printed in paperback form. This book belongs on everyone's bookshelf.
Here's how it begins:A musician wakes from a terrible nightmare. In his dream he finds himself in a society where music education has been made mandatory. "We are helping our students become more competitive in an increasingly sound-filled world." Educators, school systems, and the state are put in charge of this vital project. Studies are commissioned, committees are formed, and decisions are made--all without the advice or participation of a single working musician or composer.
Since musicians are known to set down their ideas in the form of sheet music, these curious black dots and lines must constitute the "language of music." It is imperative that students become fluent in this language if they are to attain any degree of musical competence; indeed, it would be ludicrous to expect a child to sing a song or play an instrument without having a thorough grounding in music notation and theory. Playing and listening to music, let alone composing an original piece, are considered very advanced topics and are generally put off until college, and more often graduate school.
Imagine that somewhere in the United States there is a Horace Mann (American educator)">Horace Mann High School, with a student who is a first-rate softball pitcher. Let us further imagine that although she set a new record for strikeouts for the school and the district, she was never written up in the local paper. Let us suppose that even when she broke the state record for batters retired she received no recognition from the major newspapers or other media in the state.
Imagine a high school boy who had broken the high jump record for his school, district, and state, who also never saw his picture or any story about his achievement in the media. He also would not hear from any college track coaches with a desire to interest him in becoming part of their programs.
In this improbable scenario, we could suppose that the coaches of these and other fine athletes at the high school level would never hear anything from their college counterparts, and would not be able to motivate their charges with the possibility of college scholarships if they did particularly well in their respective sports.
These fine athletes could still apply to colleges and, if their academic records, test scores, personal essays, grades, and applications were sufficiently impressive, they might be accepted at the college of their choice, but, of course they would receive no special welcome as a result of their outstanding performance on the high school athletic fields.
This is all fiction, of course, in our country at present. Outstanding athletes do receive letters from interested colleges, and even visits from coaches if they are good enough, and it is then up to the athlete to decide which college sports program they will "commit to" or "sign with," as the process is actually described in the media. Full scholarships are often available to the best high school athletes, so that they may contribute to their college teams without worrying about paying for tuition or accumulating student debt.
In turn, high school coaches with very good athletes in fact do receive attention from college coaches, who keep in touch to find out the statistics on their most promising athletes, and to get recommendations for which ones are most worth pursuing and most worth offering scholarships to.
These high school coaches are an important agent in helping their promising athletes decide who to "commit to" or who to "sign with" when they are making their higher education plans.
On the other hand, if high school teachers have outstanding students of history, there are no scholarships available for them, no media recognition, and certainly no interest from college professors of history. For their work in identifying and nurturing the most diligent, the brightest, and the highest-achieving students of history, these academic coaches (teachers) are essentially ignored.
Those high school students of history, no matter whether they write first-class 15,000-word history research papers, like Colin Rhys Hill of Atlanta, Georgia (published in the Fall 2008 issue of The Concord Review), or a first-class 13,000-word history research paper, like Amalia Skilton of Tempe, Arizona (published in the Spring 2009 issue of The Concord Review), they will hear from no one offering them a full college scholarship for their outstanding high school academic work in history.
College professors of history will not write or call them, and they will not visit their homes to try to persuade them to "commit to" or "sign with" a particular college or university. The local media will ignore their academic achievements, because they limit their high school coverage to the athletes.
To anyone who believes the primary mission of the high schools is academic, and who pays their taxes mainly to promote that mission, this bizarre imbalance in the mechanics of recognition and support may seem strange, if they stop to think about it. But this is our culture when it comes to promoting academic achievement at the high school level. If we would like to see higher levels of academic achievement by our high school students, just as we like to see higher levels of athletic achievement by our students at the high school level, perhaps we might give some thought to changing this culture (soon).
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
Consortium for Varsity Academics® 
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA
The second principle was more important. Ranadivé was puzzled by the way Americans played basketball. He is from Mumbai. He grew up with cricket and soccer. He would never forget the first time he saw a basketball game. He thought it was mindless. Team A would score and then immediately retreat to its own end of the court. Team B would inbound the ball and dribble it into Team A's end, where Team A was patiently waiting. Then the process would reverse itself. A basketball court was ninety-four feet long. But most of the time a team defended only about twenty-four feet of that, conceding the other seventy feet. Occasionally, teams would play a full-court press--that is, they would contest their opponent's attempt to advance the ball up the court. But they would do it for only a few minutes at a time. It was as if there were a kind of conspiracy in the basketball world about the way the game ought to be played, and Ranadivé thought that that conspiracy had the effect of widening the gap between good teams and weak teams. Good teams, after all, had players who were tall and could dribble and shoot well; they could crisply execute their carefully prepared plays in their opponent's end. Why, then, did weak teams play in a way that made it easy for good teams to do the very things that made them so good?
The Boston Globe has been publishing for 137 years, and the news that it may have to fold has distressed its many readers. Each Fall, Winter and Spring the paper publishes a special section, of 14 pages or so, on notable local public high school athletes and their coaches. There is a mention of athletes and coaches at local prep schools as well.
The latest Boston Globe's Winter "ALL-SCHOLASTICS" section arrived, with the "ten moments that stood out among the countless athletic stories in Massachusetts." There are reports on the best athletes and coaches in Skiing, Boys' Basketball, Girls' Basketball, Boys' Hockey, Girls' Hockey, Boys' Track, Girls' Track, Boys' Swimming, Girls' Swimming, Preps, Wrestling, and Gymnastics. The Preps and Gymnastics parts consolidate boys' and girls' accomplishments, perhaps to save space (and cost).
Each full-page section also features photographs of 9-16 athletes, with perhaps a twitter-sized paragraph on their achievements. In addition, there are 30 photos and tweets about some coaches, spread among the various sports. There are 26 "Prep" athletes mentioned, from various sports, but I didn't see any "Prep" coaches profiled. For each high school sport there are two "athletes of the year" identified, and all the coaches are "coaches of the year" in their sport.
There may be, at this time, some high school "students of the year" in English, math, Chinese, physics, Latin, chemistry, European history, U.S. history, biology, and the like. There may also be high school "teachers of the year" in these and other academic subjects, but their names and descriptions are not to be found in The Boston Globe, perhaps the most well-known paper in the "Athens of America" (Boston).
It may be the case, indeed it probably is the case, that some of the athletes featured in the Winter "All-Scholastics" section today are also high school students of math, history, English, science, and languages, but you would not know that from the coverage of The Boston Globe. The coaches of the year may in many, if not all, cases, also be teachers of academic subjects in the Massachusetts public and private schools, but that remains only a guess as well.
When the British architect Christopher Wren was buried in 1723, part of his epitaph, written by his eldest son, Christopher Wren, Jr., read: "Lector, si monumentum requiris, Circumspice." If you wanted to judge his interest, efforts and accomplishments, all you had to do was look around you. His work was there for all to see.
The work of Massachusetts high school athletes and coaches is all around us in The Boston Globe on a regular basis, but the work of our high school scholars and teachers is nowhere to be seen in that public record.
If one seeks a monument to anti-academic and anti-intellectual views and practices in Boston today, one need look no further than The Boston Globe. I read it every day, and I will be sorry to see it fold, if it does, but I will not miss its attention to and recognition of the academic efforts and accomplishments of Massachusetts secondary students and their teachers, because there is none now, and never has been any, no matter how many reports on education reform and academic standards it may have published over the years. If you ask how much The Boston Globe editors (and I am sure The Globe is not alone in this) cares about the good academic work now actually being done by high school teachers and their students in Massachusetts, the answer is, from the evidence, that they do not.
Most high school athletes will spend fewer nights under the stadium lights next year, as the state's athletic board shortens the season for many sports.
The Florida High School Athletic Association voted Monday to cut costs by reducing varsity seasons by 20 percent and junior varsity seasons by 40 percent. Football and cheerleading are exempt.
"Football is a moneymaker and most others are not," said Lanness Robinson, Athletic Director for public schools in Hillsborough County.
FHSAA could not provide specifics for the estimated cost savings. A spokeswoman said the board had the backing of school districts and superintendents. She said an across-the-board schedule reduction would spare some sports from total elimination.
GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).
Widespread hiring freezes and layoffs have brought these problems into sharp relief now. But our graduate system has been in crisis for decades, and the seeds of this crisis go as far back as the formation of modern universities. Kant, in his 1798 work "The Conflict of the Faculties," wrote that universities should "handle the entire content of learning by mass production, so to speak, by a division of labor, so that for every branch of the sciences there would be a public teacher or professor appointed as its trustee."
Unfortunately this mass-production university model has led to separation where there ought to be collaboration and to ever-increasing specialization. In my own religion department, for example, we have 10 faculty members, working in eight subfields, with little overlap. And as departments fragment, research and publication become more and more about less and less. Each academic becomes the trustee not of a branch of the sciences, but of limited knowledge that all too often is irrelevant for genuinely important problems. A colleague recently boasted to me that his best student was doing his dissertation on how the medieval theologian Duns Scotus used citations.
Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot-11 high school junior whom some consider the best American big man since Greg Oden, says he will be taking a new path to the N.B.A. He has left San Diego High School and said this week that he would skip his senior year to play professionally in Europe.
Tyler, 17, would become the first United States-born player to leave high school early to play professionally overseas. He is expected to return in two years, when he is projected to be a top pick, if not the No. 1 pick, in the 2011 N.B.A. draft.
Tyler, who had orally committed to play for Rick Pitino at Louisville, has yet to sign with an agent or a professional team. His likely destination is Spain, though teams from other European leagues have shown interest. A spokesman for Louisville said the university could not comment about Tyler.
“Nowadays people look to college for more off-the-court stuff versus being in the gym and getting better,” Tyler said. “If you’re really focused on getting better, you go play pro somewhere. Pro guys will get you way better than playing against college guys.”
There haven't been many upsets in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament, as big name basketball powerhouses have dominated the hardwood. But evaluate the Sweet Sixteen based on the most important academic competition of studying for and obtaining a meaningful degree and you'll find that most of the top teams wouldn't even come close to cutting down the nets in Detroit early next month.
Higher Ed Watch's third annual Academic Sweet Sixteen examines the remaining teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament to see which squads are matching their on-court success with academic achievement in the classroom. And for the third consecutive year, academic indicators produce a championship game match-up that isn't on anyone's radar: Purdue versus Villanova, with Purdue's 80 percent graduation rate trumping Villanova's 67 percent. The University of North Carolina and Michigan State, meanwhile, round out the Final Four with graduation rates of 60 percent.
After school on a recent afternoon, Allonzo Trier, a sixth grader in Federal Way, outside Seattle, came home and quickly changed into his workout gear -- Nike high-tops, baggy basketball shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt that hung loosely on his 5-foot-5, 110-pound frame. Inside a small gymnasium near the entrance of his apartment complex, he got right to his practice routine, one he has maintained for the last four years, seven days a week. He began by dribbling a basketball around the perimeter of the court, weaving it around his back and through his legs. After a few minutes, he took a second basketball out of a mesh bag and dribbled both balls, crisscrossing them through his legs. It looked like showboating, Harlem Globetrotters kind of stuff, but the drills, which Trier discovered on the Internet, were based on the childhood workouts of Pete Maravich and have helped nurture his exquisite control of the ball in game settings -- and, by extension, his burgeoning national reputation.
One of the Web sites that tracks young basketball prospects reports that Trier plays with "style and punch" and "handles the pill" -- the ball -- "like a yo-yo." He is a darling of the so-called grass-roots basketball scene and a star on the A.A.U. circuit -- which stands for Amateur Athletic Union but whose practices mock traditional definitions of amateurism.
Chicago public school coaches are in for a crackdown under a proposed city policy that explicitly bans everything from pushing, pinching or paddling athletes to "displays of temper.''
The massive overhaul of the Chicago Public High Schools Athletic Association bylaws follows allegations that began emerging last fall that at least four CPS coaches had paddled or hit athletes.
The new policy creates the possibility that coaches can be banned for life for just one rule violation. Previously, such punishment followed only "knowing and repeated'' rule violations.
It also mandates annual coaching training, requires that all coaches undergo criminal background checks and fingerprint analysis, and establishes a "pool'' of thoroughly screened candidates from which principals must now pick their coaches.
Prohibitions against corporal punishment and even "forcing a student to stand or kneel for an inordinate time" were listed elsewhere in CPS policy, but after the paddling scandal, CPS wanted to take a clear stand against a wide variety of corporal punishment, said CPS counsel Patrick Rocks.
A state-by-state look at results of results of steroids tests in high schools:
Tests administered: 600
Positive results: 1
Notes: Florida had a statewide testing program only during the 2007-08 school year.
Travis Henry was rattling off his children's ages, which range from 3 to 11. He paused and took a breath before finishing.
This was no simple task. Henry, 30, a former N.F.L. running back who played for three teams from 2001 to 2007, has nine children -- each by a different mother, some born as closely as a few months apart.
Reports of Henry's prolific procreating, generated by child-support disputes, have highlighted how futile the N.F.L.'s attempts can be at educating its players about making wise choices. The disputes have even eclipsed the attention he received after he was indicted on charges of cocaine trafficking.
"They've got my blood; I've got to deal with it," Henry said of fiscal responsibilities to his children. He spoke by telephone from his Denver residence, where he was under house arrest until recently for the drug matter.
Henry had just returned from Atlanta, where a judge showed little sympathy for his predicament during a hearing and declined to lower monthly payments from $3,000 for a 4-year-old son.
With the announcement of the new Summit Credit Union Baseball Field, Sun Prairie has likely become the first Dane County school district to sell the naming rights for a specific school facility.
And the high school's varsity baseball field could be just the beginning: District officials want to sell naming rights to everything from the classrooms and the cafeteria to trophy cases and field lights at the new high school slated to open in the fall of 2010.
"Our goal is to have as many of the big items named before the school opens," said Jim McCourt, Sun Prairie School Board treasurer and member of the Naming Rights Subcommittee.
The subcommittee has a tentative goal of selling more than $3 million in naming rights. However, district officials say business or individual monikers would be presented tactfully, such as a plaque bearing a person's name on the back of an auditorium seat or above a classroom doorway.
"It's not like we're going to have banners all over the school," McCourt said.
On Tuesday the district announced Summit Credit Union as the first company to be granted naming rights for a district facility, under the new policy to allow for names of businesses attached to facilities, in exchange for donations.
The School Board approved the naming rights agreement with Summit on Monday night, which will be in effect for 20 years. The credit union donated $99,537, which pays for about a third of the cost of the field that will have artificial turf on the infield.
In the weeks following an underage drinking party near Waunakee in September 2007, rumors swirled about why the School District didn't move more quickly to discipline football players who were involved.
Though the insinuation in some circles was school officials were dragging their feet to keep Waunakee at full strength in the playoffs, recently released documents show the district investigation was delayed at the insistence of a Dane County sheriff's detective investigating criminal activity at the party.
State law allows law enforcement agencies to release reports that could help school officials discipline students, but individual police departments set their own policies and not everyone agrees on the best policy.
If a police agency is stingy with how it chooses to share information, it can delay the school's ability to mete out swift punishment intended to deter underage drinking in the first place.
In the case of the Waunakee football players, the district got mixed messages from the Dane County Sheriff's Office.
They are young, but they're not children.
They're from all over North America, but right now they'd just like to challenge for basketball championships at a boarding school in Delafield.
They've found a place that has given them a chance to make something out of their dreams.
That's why kids like Carlos Toussaint and Kevin Mays and Devin Johnson and Isaiah Gray are attending St. John's Northwestern Military Academy.
And their approach to school and basketball is why the Lancers are off to a 6-0 start this season, with nothing but bright skies in the forecast.
"The scary thing is that we start three sophomores and a freshman," St. John's Northwestern coach Brian Richert said. "The sky is the limit as to what these guys might be able to achieve down the road."
But to one, Toussaint, it's all about this year. He's the Lancers' only senior starter, and his statistics match his impressive basketball pedigree.
Toussaint's father, Jorge, is the president of Federacion Mexicana de Basquetbol, the Mexican Basketball Federation. That's the organization that organizes national teams at various age levels, up to and including the Olympics, and hires coaches who then select the various squads.
6 November 2008
Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,
My name is Lindsay Brown, and I am the chair of the history department at St. Andrew's School in Delaware. I have been thinking about the role of academics and athletics in college placement for some time, and being at a boarding school I wear many hats and so see multiple sides of this issue. I do a great deal of work with athletes that I coach in the sport of rowing, helping them to be recruits for college coaches. I began talking to people and commenting about how I had never done any recruiting for our top history students, and that there was a significant contrast between athletic and academic interest in the admission process for colleges.
With these vague thoughts, I decided to write something, possibly to send to some publication(?) or maybe just to do some therapeutic venting on my keyboard. I sent a draft of my thoughts to several of my colleagues, including our librarian who is a relentless researcher. In response to my short essay, she sent me your article on the "History Scholar" on very similar ideas--I guess I wasn't as original as I thought! But I wanted to send you my thoughts, ask if you had a moment to give me any feedback, and then also ask if you think it was acceptable for me to potentially send my essay out--where exactly I'm not sure.
In any case, I was impressed with your work and your information on this topic.
St. Andrew's School
My essay is copied below and attached:
The headlines are meant to grab our attention and alert us to a crisis in education: "High school graduates are not ready for college" or some variation on this idea that college freshmen can't do the work their professors demand of them. Colleges and professors lament this situation, and, in a related vein, often complain that athletics and athletic recruiting are running out of control to the detriment of the academic mission of their institutions. And not just the big schools that compete for national championships in football or basketball are sounding this alarm; even top tier, highly selective colleges and universities sing a similar melody. What should happen to correct this situation?
Ironically, I would like to suggest that colleges look to their athletic departments for inspiration and a possible way to improve the academic strength of their student body.
I am a high school history teacher and chairman of the history department at a boarding school that sends 100% of its graduates on to colleges and universities, including many of the most selective schools. I am also the boys' varsity crew coach, and many of our athletes compete in the world of college rowing. There is an overlap in many cases between the most selective academic and rowing colleges, and the Ivy League schools would be at the top of that list but there are many others including schools such as Cal, Trinity, Wisconsin, Williams, Colby to name a few.
There are numerous articles available that bemoan the poor level of preparation of high school students for college academics, or that assert that college athletics have run wild, destroying academic integrity. In my dual roles as teacher and coach, I have some observations to offer from the perspective of a high school teacher, albeit a teacher at a rigorous, selective boarding school, and the perhaps counterintuitive suggestion that if colleges are serious about improving the quality of their students, they should learn from their coaches. Here is the crux of the matter: during my 22 years of working as a teacher/coach, I have fielded innumerable calls and emails from rowing coaches asking me for direct information about my top athletes. Coaches want to learn about the athletes they are recruiting, and they want to get past the basic numbers--height, weight, or score on a rowing machine--and determine if the athlete would contribute to their program. In that same time I have never once had a professor or department head call me and ask for information about our top history scholars. Professors seem to be totally separated from the admission process of their college while coaches are working closely with admissions to try to bring the best athletes to the school. Why don't professors, or at least department heads, work more directly with their college and with high schools to recruit the top students?
Rowing is not a widespread sport; there are no youth rowing leagues, for example, that students join at age 5. There is, however, a rowing machine that serves to give basic information about a rower's strength, stamina, and therefore athletic potential. It is called a Concept 2 Ergometer, and the score a rower earns on this machine can be compared with any other rower anywhere in the country, or even the world. It is an SAT for rowing, so to speak, with many the same drawbacks of that standardized
test. Brute force on the rowing machine does not necessarily tell a college coach about the athlete's commitment to his team, his love of the sport itself, his attitude, his work ethic, or his willingness to take learn and take coaching. On the other hand, an athlete from a small or obscure high school rowing program can get noticed and even recruited if he can achieve a top score on the machine. In other words, a coach looks at an athlete's score, assesses potential, and then follows up by contacting the coach to learn what lies beyond the mere numbers.
When coaches call me, they ask questions such as "does this student work hard?" Or "does he contribute to the team spirit?" They ask about his technique while rowing, and his general level of athleticism. They are searching for information about the intangibles of the sport that will give them a better picture of the applicant. I am friends or at least friendly with many of these college coaches, having gotten to know them
over the years, and I give a positive but always honest evaluation of the athletes I coach. Then, if a coach decides that he likes the profile of the athlete, he will talk with his college admissions office and offer his support for the athletes application. The admissions office might ask further questions of the coach, but there is a working relationship there that in the end is trying to find student/athletes that are good fits for
Do college professors or department heads do the same thing? Do they seek out high school students who are interested in their subject area and make the effort to improve the quality of the students they teach by recruiting? Do they take the time to talk to the admissions office on behalf of high school students with particularly strong talent? As far as I can tell, they do not. So then I wonder why professors lament the poor quality of the students they teach and why sometimes those same professors complain that athletics are dominating their school. It seems to me that the better response would be to follow the model of the coaches and talk to high school teachers about their top students, build a relationship with those students and assist them in the process of applying to their school.
Furthermore, when I talk to our alumni about their college experience, it seems that most find their coach is the adult with whom they have the closest personal relationship. Their coach is the one who knows them by name. Their coach is the person who shows a genuine interest in their general health and well-being, including their academic progress. In the best rowing programs, the coaches work with the athletes to make sure those athletes are finding success academically: they put their athletes in study hall or get them help with study skills if that is needed. In the best-run rowing programs, the coach is actually a strong supporter of the academic program. For one thing, in rowing there is no professional league and no potential lucrative rowing contracts out there, so coaches know that it will be success in academics that will lead to each athlete's future employment. Furthermore, rowers as a group tend to be driven, goal-oriented, and self-disciplined, and my experience has been that the best students are often the best rowers. They know how to work hard: both in sports and in academics. Rowers generally insist on keeping their academic work strong, and a coach who ignores the rowers' desire to achieve success academically risks losing athletes. Again, coaches understand that they get the best performance by connecting with their athletes and caring for them. Could the academic side of colleges learn
from this example?
I know that I worked hardest for those professors I believed had my best interests at heart and who made the effort to get to know me as an individual. I have tried to do the same with the students I teach and with the students I coach.
Having challenged colleges and professors to think like their athletic colleagues and work to "recruit" top students in their respective fields, I also want to challenge high school students to work in their own self-interest and pursue academic, departmental-specific recruiting. Just as athletes contact college coaches and try to get support from those coaches in the admissions process, students with a special talent or interest in a given subject area should contact department chairs at colleges of interest. In the world of rowing, I am confident that when a rower makes such a telephone call or sends off an email, the coach will respond and follow up. They will have a conversation, and the coach will make some initial decisions about the compatibility of the athlete with
their program. The coaches not only ask questions about rowing prowess, they also, even first, ask about academic strength, because they know that this is the first and highest hurdle for any potential recruit. The key point, though, is that there is a conversation, and the coach follows up with any potential recruit. My rowers know this, and so they are motivated to seek out the assistance of a coach. Since no one has ever heard of a history department chair working actively to recruit a top history scholar, my top students don't even think to make such a call. I wonder what would happen if they did?
I will be talking with coaches soon about the rowers who have applied to their college from my school--I know those calls are coming, and I look forward to talking about the strengths of our athletes. I am still waiting to hear from any history chair at any of these same schools about the many fine history scholars we have here; I would love to explain our history curriculum and give them a picture of the students beyond the score of any of the standardized tests.
NEWARK, Del. -- Students kept filing into the tiny hideaway gym at the University of Delaware, but most seemed interested in swimming and the fitness center, not volleyball. Only 150 or so fans attended Wednesday's match, 200 tops, family and friends tucked into a small set of bleachers.
Elena Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 middle hitter, took her position near the net and played the way a novice does, dominating at some moments, uncertain at others. She spiked the ball ferociously to end the suspense in a three-set victory over Villanova, but it remained jarring even for her father to see her in the tights and kneepads of volleyball instead of the flowing shorts of basketball.
"If Tom Brady was your son, you would really enjoy that he was a darn good Ping-Pong player, but you'd feel like, Why's he playing Ping-Pong?" Ernie Delle Donne, a real estate developer, said, referring to the New England quarterback.
Only months ago, Elena Delle Donne was the nation's top female high school basketball recruit, a signee with the University of Connecticut, an expected central figure in what many predict will be the Huskies' sixth national title season in 2008-9. After two days of classes last June, though, Delle Donne acknowledged what few athletes of her visibility have ever acknowledged publicly -- she was burned out on basketball at 18
The Green Bay Packers will partner with seven Wisconsin high schools to implement the NFL ATLAS & ATHENA Schools Program, a nationally-acclaimed initiative designed to promote healthy living and reduce the use of steroids and other drugs among high school athletes.
The high schools, Ashwaubenon, Columbus, De Pere, Gibraltar, New Holstein, Two Rivers and West De Pere, will complete the program sessions during the 2008-09 school year. The schools were chosen based on interviews with program administrators and school-wide commitment from the principal, athletic director and coaches.
This local opportunity was created as a result of a $2.8 million grant from the NFL Youth Football Fund to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The Green Bay Packers, other NFL teams and the NFL Players Association all contribute to the NFL Youth Football Fund. The NFL grant is one of a series of improvements to the NFL and NFL Players Association's policy and program on anabolic steroids and related substances. It will be used to disseminate ATLAS and ATHENA to 36,000 high school athletes and 1,200 coaches in 80 high schools during the 2008-2009 school year. Participating teams include the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, and Washington Redskins.
Frederic J. Fransen
Center for Excellence in Higher Education
Perhaps it's time for college fundraisers to come clean about the differences between giving to colleges and universities and giving to their athletic programs.
When donors give to athletics their gifts may produce visible results (a winning season, perhaps, or an NCAA tournament spot), but such gifts do not help colleges achieve their primary mission: the education of tomorrow's leaders.
Not that there is anything wrong with giving to athletic programs, but a spade needs to be called a spade.
We've all heard the rationalizations. College athletic programs -- especially big-time football and basketball -- boost school spirit and spur alumni giving.
College athletic programs give some students a shot at a college education they wouldn't get otherwise. And sports competition helps us become well-rounded individuals. None of these points is inherently untrue. They're just irrelevant.
Americans, through tax dollars, tuition, and philanthropy, support some 2,500 public and private four-year colleges and universities for a reason: to educate those who will lead and sustain us in the future.
As much as I might enjoy the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts, their services are fundamentally unnecessary for the survival, prosperity, well-being and enlightenment of the country.
Yet, 26 percent of all dollars donated to Division I-A colleges and universities now go to athletics, according to an analysis published in the April 2007 issue of the Journal of Sport Management. In 1998, the comparable figure was 14.7 percent.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported late last year that overall spending on sports has been growing "at a rate three times faster than that for spending on the rest of the campus." And for most schools, according to recently released NCAA research, sports program costs exceed revenues. Only the top athletic powerhouses make money -- and, frequently, only when they win.
Where's the money going? Mostly, the money goes to build new stadiums, arenas and practice facilities to showcase the schools' gladiators.
Schools in the six top college athletic conferences received more than $3.9 billion in donations for athletic facilities from 2002 to 2007 alone, the Chronicle of Higher Education says.
The question that needs to be asked is why are schools spending big bucks on athletic facilities for a relative handful of semi-pro athletes when academics should be their focus?
One reason many philanthropists choose to give to college athletics is because they know what they are getting. Who can blame them?
When you donate a large sum of money to support University of Wisconsin athletic programs, you do so because the Badgers have a winning tradition and you hope your gift will help produce additional championships.
When you write the same check to the English or history department, you may never know where the money went.
If education is to be the primary focus of our colleges and universities, officials involved in the "rainmaking" process need to do a better job of demonstrating to donors what their educational gifts accomplish in an equally transparent and powerful way.
They do higher education a disservice when they spend money excessively on the game, while shortchanging the end game: a highly educated workforce to face the competitive challenges of the 21st century -- and a tolerant and enlightened public capable of making intelligent personal and political choices.
That's what we need. And that's what a new field house doesn't buy.
The Madison School District must reinstate four high school athletic directors and "make them whole for any financial loss, " according to an arbitrator 's ruling made public Monday.
Arbitrator Milo Flaten ruled the district violated its contract with Madison Teachers Inc. a year ago when it replaced the four athletic directors -- who were union members -- with two managers hired from other school districts.
In the decision, dated Friday and released by MTI on Monday, Flaten wrote that under its existing contract with MTI, the district promised that "athletic directors in the four schools would be represented by the union and that they would be members of the bargaining unit. No amount of reassignment of duties or creation of superficial boundaries can change that."
MTI Executive Director John Matthews on Monday estimated the decision could cost the district more than $230,000.
Of that amount, each of the four former athletic directors would receive about $8,000 apiece -- the extra compensation the four, who still work for the district, would have received this school year as athletic directors.
To Kelby Jasmon, there was only one answer. The question: If he received yet another concussion this football season, while playing offensive and defensive line for his high school in Springfield, Ill., would he tell a coach or trainer?
Jasmon, with his battering-ram, freshly buzz-cut head and eyes that danced with impending glory, immediately answered: “No chance. It’s not dangerous to play with a concussion. You’ve got to sacrifice for the sake of the team. The only way I come out is on a stretcher.”
Jasmon, a senior with three concussions on his résumé, looked at two teammates for support and unity. They said the same thing with the same certainty: They did not quite know what a concussion was, and would never tell their coaches if they believed they had sustained one.
Matt Selvaggio, who plays with Jasmon on both lines, said: “Our coaches would take us out in a second. So why would we tell them?”
Many of the 1.2 million teenagers who play high school football are chanting similar war whoops as they strap on their helmets. They either do not know what a concussion is or they simply do not care. Their code of silence, bred by football’s gladiator culture, allows them to play on and sometimes be hurt much worse — sometimes fatally.
In an anticipated move, Big Eight Conference athletic directors unanimously voted to reject the Madison School Board's proposal to consolidate prep boys golf teams beginning next spring.
With a 9-0 vote, it was agreed that combining athletic teams was strictly a participation issue as opposed to a financial one, Madison Memorial athletic director Tim Ritchie said Thursday.
"Our numbers are good for golf," Ritchie said.
The idea of combining teams from Madison Memorial and Madison West, as well as teams from Madison La Follette and Madison East will not be proposed to the WIAA because the conference did not agree to it, Ritchie said.
For generations it has been one of the great American axioms, accepted truth on diamonds, courts and gridirons everywhere: Sports builds character, instilling the values of teamwork and good sportsmanship.
But amid fresh headlines of alleged cheating in auto racing, continuing controversies over steroid use in baseball, track and cycling and ugly brawls among basketball players comes a nationwide survey suggesting a decidedly darker vision of sports.
"There is reason to worry that the sports fields of America are becoming the training grounds for the next generation of corporate and political villains and thieves," says Los Angeles ethicist Michael Josephson.
The latest two-year study of high school athletes by the Josephson Institute found a higher rate of cheating in school among student-athletes than among their classmates. It also found a growing acceptance of cheating to gain advantages in competition.
Josephson's report, based on interviews across the country with 5,275 high school athletes, concluded that too many coaches are "teaching our kids to cheat and cut corners."
Parents interfering in their kids' sports is nothing new. But a group of parents at Castro Valley High is taking it to a new extreme.
What started as a group of unhappy parents griping amongst themselves has ballooned into multiple investigations, an observer attending every girls varsity basketball practice and a committee that will pick the team.
It's the kind of over-the-top behavior that's increasingly common -- parents running on the field, screaming from the sidelines and, in the worst cases, punching out officials. It happens when well-intentioned parents let their protective instincts for their children overwhelm their good judgment.
In Castro Valley, the club wielded by parents is legal clout.
When he did this, Mitchell opened the book for him. She didn’t care much about football, but she fairly quickly became attached to Michael. There was just something about him that made you want to help him. He tried so hard and for so little return. “One night it wasn’t going so well, and I got frustrated,” Mitchell says, “and he said to me, ‘Miss Sue, you have to remember I’ve only been going to school for two years.”’From Lewis's new book: The Blind Side.
His senior year he made all A’s and B’s. It nearly killed him, but he did it. The Briarcrest academic marathon, in which Michael started out a distant last and had instantly fallen farther behind, came to a surprising end: in a class of 157 students, he finished 154th. He had caught up to and passed three of his classmates. When Sean saw the final report card, he turned to Michael with a straight face and said, “You didn’t lose; you just ran out of time.”
Jason Kottke has more.
Message to the School Board from Lucy Chaffin, MSCR Director:
On Saturday December 3, 2005 we held the first day of games for the new 9th and 10th grade extramural basketball league. We had 71 participants for a total of 8 teams and roughly 100 spectators including parents and friends of players. All participants, coaches and specators were very respectful and well behaved and created a fun and recreational atmosphere for the day. Skill levels of participants varied greatly and all students received equal playing time.
We are currently seeking a coach for a West High team and one of the
LaFollette teams. If you know of anyone interested please have them
contact Diana Miller at 204-4580.
A special thanks to West High Athletic Director, Boyce Hodge for being extremely helpful with set-up at West. Thanks for everyone's support and help.
The Madison School District has two positions for the new High School Extramural Program at MSCR. The purpose of this position is to develop, promote and coordinate after school clubs and extramural sports at two regular high school sites and for one alternative high school. Lucy Chaffin wrote: Hi everyone, I would really like to get the word out about these two positions open at MSCR. Please pass along and post at any place you feel is appropriate.
HOURS PER WEEK: 38.75 HOURS OF WORK: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. w/**Flexibility to cover Saturday morning hours during extramural sports seasons. NORMAL BIWEEKLY STARTING RATE OF PAY: $1478.50. DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 14, 2005. For more information contact Lucy Chaffin, Executive Director, MSCR at 608-204-3015 or go to http://mmsd.org/hr/jobprof.htm (for this position or others).
EXAMPLES OF DUTIES:
The following responsibilities are normal for this position. These are not to be construed as exclusive or all-inclusive. Other duties will be required and assigned.
· Design and implement after-school, evening and weekend enrichment programs at assigned high schools that will appeal to a diverse audience of high school aged students.
· Recruits club leaders, extramural sport coaches and volunteers from within and outside of school staff. Provides staff training in the area of required record keeping, payroll.
· Works with high school staff to schedule facilities for use by clubs and extramural sports.
· Promotes clubs and extramural sports to students and teachers within the school setting. Promotes these activities in the school newsletter on a regular basis. Keeps school administration and secretary informed about clubs and sport activities.
· Conducts club/extramural program visits to monitor program effectiveness, provide feedback to club leaders and coaches, assist in trouble shooting and finding solutions to any concerns.
· Arranges participant transportation as required for programs.
· Establishes a physically and emotionally safe program environment. Ensures compliance with MMSD standards. Ensures compliance with MSCR participant code of conduct.
· Serves as a liaison between MSCR staff and school personnel. Meets regularly with MSCR High School Program specialist and high school staff, including athletic directors.
· Establishes and maintains effective working relationships with club and extramural leaders, participants, parents, community members and school personnel.
· Tracks participation statistics, maintains necessary records, and develops and submits required reports to recreation specialist and/or supervisor.
· Develop and implement program partnerships with area community centers, community agencies and individuals.
· Supervise daily after-school, evening and weekend programs.
· Monitor enrollment & registration of students in MSCR programs.
REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS & ABILITIES:
· Experience working with students and families from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.
· Ability to communicate effectively, verbally and in writing, with diverse students, staff, and community members.
· Experience working cross-culturally and/or commitment to work toward improving one’s own cultural competence, i.e., valuing difference/diversity, recognizing personal limitations in one’s skills and expertise, and having the desire to learn in these areas.
· Bachelor’s degree preferred.
· High school diploma required, with a minimum of two years of post-high school education and two years experience working in programs for high school aged youth and supervising staff and/or volunteers; or any combination of education and experience that provides equivalent knowledge, skills and abilities.
· Proficiency with Microsoft Word and Excel software.
All applications, including applications for transfer, promotion or demotion and Experience Inventory must be on file in the
Department of Human Resources no later than 4:15 p.m. on the deadline date.
All completed applications on file in the Department of Human Resources as of the due date will be evaluated. Applicants
may also be required to satisfactorily complete a written examination or skills test. The most qualified applicant(s) will be
referred to the hiring authority for an interview.
Private funds for 2 West High Soccer teams were approved by the School Board on Monday, July 11th. The approval is for one year.
A well written article by a teenager on the state of youth sports today and the overemphasis on competition and winning as the main value. Need to continue to emphasize fun and skill development.
The school district comments line (email@example.com) for school board members has been getting several messages regarding the “Freshman No Cut Sports Program.” Regardless of what happens with the operating referendum on May 24th, this particular program will cease to exist. The Freshman No Cut Sports program has been a staple in the school district for over 20 years. This program is indeed another causality of the state imposed revenue caps. Unfortunately because of the school district’s severe budget constraints, I find it very difficult to justify the programs continuance in its current form.
This Freshman No Cut Sports guarantees 9th grade high school students the opportunity to participate in athletics. Primarily this program involves the creation of extra teams in boys and girls basketball and girls volleyball (and maybe soccer, too). For example, if there were 60 students who wanted to participate in a sport the district would create four teams (or 15 students per team – depending on the sport). Two of those teams would participate in a “high level competitive environment” by playing against other teams from the Big 8 conference such as other Madison schools, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Beloit and Janesville. These would be your more athletically gifted players. The other teams called “Metro” teams play an abbreviated schedule against other Madison schools and perhaps Middleton. Players on these teams would be considered “less athletically gifted.” Given that the school board increased the activity fee to $115 per sport, you have to ask yourself are those athletes getting their monies worth and can the taxpaying community support the perception of another “extra activity” for the school district?
Last fall, Superintendent Art Rainwater developed a task force of athletic directors, booster club members and coaches to make recommendations regarding the future of sports programming in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). One of their many recommendations was to eliminate the “Freshman No Cut Sports” program and replace it with an “extra-mural” program where students would have a limited schedule of playing against other students. This program would still have the same effect related to the district’s Educational Framework of Engagement, Learning and Relationships, however, it would be funded and conducted differently. At the same time, the MMSD will continue to honor its Big 8 conference contractual agreements to provide freshman and junior varsity teams in most sports when applicable.
I believe that MMSD staff, booster clubs and members of the school board are working diligently to continue to provide extracurricular activities for students of all ability levels. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to provide this experience to as many students as in the past in the same format. In the future, I will recommend a fee increase in some sports as well as admission prices. In addition, I believe that the school board will have to evaluate its policies related to business partnerships (advertising and program underwriting) to continue to support athletic programming and other extracurricular activities. Also, partnerships will have to be developed and strengthened with community organizations such as the YMCA, Little Leagues, neighborhood centers, and other community athletic organizations to augment school programs that the district doesn’t have the capacity or the fiscal budget to continue.
We are in a very difficult situation that doesn’t look to be getting any better soon. I agree that athletics plays a very important part in the lives of students. But so do many other academic and extracurricular activities. Sadly, I say goodbye to “Freshman No Cut Sports.” It provided many students the opportunity for not only athletic enjoyment but helped in developing social and team building skills as well. Just like strings, it was a program that made the MMSD special. It will be missed.
A reader forwarded me comments that were sent to the Madison School Board regarding the proposed athletic field fees:
As you would guess, many of us who have watched a soccer game, t-ball game or football game and enjoyed the unencumbered spirit and play of our children and have personally mowed the grass, or lined a field, you may oppose the school board proposal of a user fee for the athletic fields during non-school hours.
I sent a letter to the comments section of MMSD school board. Send yours to: comments@ at madison.k12.wi.us
My letter to the school board stated:
I notice there is a proposal whereby the school board wants to consider placing a user fee on the school athletic fields for any use of these fields outside of school functions and MSCR activities. I am opposed to this proposal for a few reasons:
1. The school boards refusal to look at cutting administrative costs downtown as part of any budget proposals. Continuing to cut teaching positions and programs that affect learning is not reasonable and needs to be discouraged. Also would encourage looking at savings in terms of health care costs by negotiating HMO contracts rather than giving the teachers the comprehensive health insurance they presently receive.
2. The lack of maintenance of the fields by the schools. I have personally mowed the soccer fields at Cherokee, lined the fields and have watched coaches donate time and equipment (goals) to make the fields playable. I doubt that the maintenance or quality of equipment will improve with the user fee proposed.
3. Anything that can be done to encourage childhood fitness rather than discourage it should be the stance of the school board. Using the fees towards an improved PE curriculum with daily PE through 12th grade, improved athletic facilities both indoor and outdoor or promises of daily physical activity time outside of PE would be a first step in garnering my support of such a fee.
If the fee is assessed, I will not be interested in supporting the proposed referendum for a new school or capital improvement.
Barb Schrank collected video & audio clips from last nights Madison School District Board of Education Meeting:
What Short-Term Option Would I Suggest for Board Consideration? � I would lower the ticket prices to last year�s prices and include volleyball and swimming. Why - families with low or tight budgets are the ones being disenfranchised, and I believe that the drop in attendance will all but wipe out any potential gains from increased ticket prices. I would also not add any additional funds to the athletics budget and have the District Administration, Athletic Directors, Booster club representatives, parents, kids need to come together to review and to prioritize the extracurricular sports budget.
What Short-Term Option Would I Suggest for Board Consideration? � I would lower the ticket prices to last year�s prices and include volleyball and swimming. Why - families with low or tight budgets are the ones being disenfranchised, and I believe that the drop in attendance will all but wipe out any potential gains from increased ticket prices. I would also not add any additional funds to the athletics budget and have the District Administration, Athletic Directors, Booster club representatives, parents, kids need to come together to review and to prioritize the extracurricular sports budget. My reasons for this recommendation follow:
� Extracurricular Sports Budget - The '04-'05 extracurricular sports budget is $2 million including the $210,000 the board transferred from the educational fund to the extracurricular sports budget several weeks ago. The approximate cost/extracurricular sports participant using �03-�04 numbers is $484/participant (not including revenues from fees and ticket sales) and $395/participant net (including the reduced budget expense when fees and ticket sale revenues are included). I expect the numbers for �04-�05 are not that much different. Consider that you spend on academics about $1,000/child on elementary math and $200-250/child on elementary art. Spending more than the current amount/participant on extracurricular sports does not make strategic or fiscal sense.
� What Can the District Spend on Extracurricular Sports? - Board members need to ask how much can the District spend on extracurricular sports. I would suggest that the District cannot spend anymore than you are currently spending and that the additional $210,000 that the board transferred several weeks ago was more than the District could afford to add to extracurricular sports. Board members are saying to the public that the District does not have the money to educate our children � adding money to extracurricular sports before educational priorities does not pass the common sense test. This would seem to imply that academic priorities do not come first, which will be a hard sell to the public when asking for additional operating funds.
� Original Revenue Calculation May Actually Not Add Any Revenue � At your Performance and Achievement Committee, public in attendance asked if the administration had included a drop in attendance when they calculated revenue increases from increased ticket prices. The administration said they had not included a drop in attendance. A 10% drop in attendance would reduce revenues about $24,000. A 30% drop in attendance would reduce revenues $80,000. In sum, you may have no increase in revenue from increased prices if the result of the increased prices is to lower attendance, but there will be disenfranchised parents and bad feelings.
� No Transfer of Educational Contingency Funds to Extracurricular Sports Budget � I do not support the transfer of any educational contingency funds to extracurricular activities without a full public strategic budget discussion by the Board. In the �04-�05 school budget, nearly $10 million was cut from the budget. Educational impacts need to be discussed before transferring funds to extracurricular activities.
� Equity � I do not support transfers to extracurricular sports activities alone. If there are any increases in the extracurricular activities, the Board needs first to look across all extracurricular activities. For example, there are no funds or staff time for this fall�s West High Performance � needed funds for this are $11,000. How can the MMSD School Board justify adding more than $300,000 to the extracurricular sports budget and not $11,000 for the high school performance? This simply does not pass the common sense test.
What options do you have if your school says there's no money for football, the Spanish club or student government? "Pay to pay" has become the option for an increasing number of public schools, an alternative that's not very popular.