Category Archives: Sports

Faced with suit, Elmbrook now will allow girls to join hockey cooperative

Amy Hetzner:

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.

New national study finds more than half of cheerleading injuries in US due to stunts

Science Codex:

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.

No fit way to treat young athletes

Valerie Strauss:

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.

Football Blowouts: The Art To Winning Big

Mike Pesca:

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?

Beefing up: High school football players are bigger but not necessarily healthier

Eric Cexheimer & John Maher:

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.

New Life Where Towns and Teams Are Dying

Jere Longman:

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 schools may lower grade-point requirement for graduation

Linda Shaw:

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.

Texas High-School Athletes Gain Ground in Class

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.

Cold Prospects

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® [2007]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007;
Varsity Academics®

“How can I help to get these kids a Lapdesk?

Maria Karaivanova:

“How can I help to get these kids a Lapdesk?” – I get this question all the time from my friends and classmates. And I want to have a good answer. An actionable, simple answer such as: “Go to our website, choose a school from the database and buy a Lapdesk for them.”
So how can our company make this happen? One of my main goals this summer is to launch an online initiative and to develop a plan for scaling it up – creating a home for individual donors who will become “Lapdesk friends”.
While our current website is functional and rich in information, I want to take it to the next level: to turn it into a dynamic communications platform connecting Lapdesk’s partners, sponsors and beneficiaries. I want to enable individuals to donate Lapdesks to a school of their choice and to track our progress – all online.

High Schools Seek to Curb Heat-Linked Sports Injuries

Laura Yao:

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.

The 25 Best Foods for Fitness

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.

The Top 10 High School Athletic Programs in the United States

Kevin Armstrong:

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, found schools that exemplified excellence in athletics during all seasons. Here is our top 10:

Sports Salaries Show What We Really Value

Allen Barra:

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.

Rigor Reduction in Sports? An NBA Player Speaks Out!

Kevin Clark:

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.

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.

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.

Artificial Turf Gets a Foothold At High Schools Across Region

Daniel de Vise:

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.

Scholastic Programs Are Feeling the Pinch as Financing for Sports Dries Up


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.

A Team’s Struggle Shows Disparity in Girls’ Sports

Katie Thomas:

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.

Coaches struggle to find balance between work and family

Tom Wyrich:

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.


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.

Shorter Florida High School Sports Season

Chris Chmura:

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.

Basketball Prospect Leaving High School to Play in Europe

Pete Thamel:

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.”

Academic March Madness

Lindsey Luebchow:

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.

Allonzo Trier Is in the Game

Michael Sokolove:

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.

Keeping coaches in check

Rosanlind Rossi & Steve Tucker:

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.

Nine Mouths to Feed

Mike Tierney:

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.

Sun Prairie sells naming rights to baseball field

Gena Kittner:

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.

What’s Memorial Done Lately?

Madison Memorial has had a pretty good couple of weeks. Last night the boys basketball team won its sixth straight Big Eight conference championship in a rollicking and highly-entertaining showdown with conference runner-up Madison East. Last week, Memorial’s boys swimming team won the state championship. Today’s State Journal reports that Memorial senior Suvai Gunasekaran will be heading off to Washington as one of the 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search. And last week Memorial senior violinist Ben Seeger was the winner of the Steenbock Youth Music Award in the Bolz Young Artist Competition.
It’s also worth pointing out that Suvai will be joined by Gabriela Farfan of West at the Intel Science Talent Search (and so MMSD is supplying 5% of the nation’s finalists), and that Ben was joined in the Bolz Young Artists Competition finals by Alice Huang of West (the overall winner) and Ansel Norris of East (and so MMSD supplied 75% of the finalists in this statewide competition).
Madison schools – a diversity of excellence.

Kung fu school hopes to boom in tough times

Celine Sun:

A local kung fu school hopes to cash in on the financial crisis, with more people expected to attend courses to tone up their bodies and get rid of negative emotions.
The Hong Kong Shaolin Wushu Culture Centre in Tai O, Lantau Island, has seen a rise in visitor numbers over the past few months, its low season, and has already received bookings for the summer holidays.
Lee Kok-keung, director of the Hong Kong Culture Association, which established the centre in 2006, said the increased interest could have something to do with the economic downturn.
“When the economy is good, people are so busy trading stocks and making money,” he said. “But when the economy is going down, people tend to pay more attention to their health.
“Practising kung fu is not only good for the body, but also an ideal way to cheer you up.”

Purgolders help Madison area schoolgirls improve dribbling and performance skills

Cassie Holman:

These are members of the recently formed MAISL Ball Handling Squad, called the Purgolders: first- through sixth-grade players from 15 schools and 13 basketball teams. The squad helps the girls improve their dribbling skills while experiencing the thrill of performing in front of a crowd.
MAISL stands for Madison Area Independent Sports League and has girls from 13 Madison-area Christian schools. Galuska, David Hackworthy and Luann Tribus coach the girls.
When Tribus’ daughter, Kendall, 11, asked to join her brothers, Avery and Clayton, on the Little Badgers boys ball-handling team, Tribus gently broke the news.
“You can’t honey, I’m sorry,” she told her daughter. “You’re a girl.”
Kendall was denied a tryout for the boys team.

High school hoops coach told to stop hypnotizing team


A high school basketball coach has been told he can’t hypnotize his players anymore because it sends the wrong message to other schools and could get the students hooked on hypnosis.
The St. John High School boys team — the same team that won state two years ago and finished second last year — was just 7-6 through last week when coach Clint Kinnamon decided to bring in a hypnotist.
He chose Carl Feril, a Church of Christ minister who also is a clinical family and marriage therapist.

In Cutting Sports Funding, Everyone Loses

Jay Matthews:

Times are tough, particularly in our schools. We don’t have the money, beleaguered education officials say, for every student who wants to play games after class. Some school sports have to go. Loudoun County is talking about cutting junior varsity lacrosse and all freshman sports. Fairfax County’s proposed budget would end girls’ gymnastics. Other teams are in jeopardy. The public high schools can’t afford them anymore.
And yet many people who reflect for a moment will remember their own school days and see this kind of financial austerity as shortsighted, like cutting back on English classes because most kids already speak that language. Many of us remember some competitive activity, usually in high school, that became a vital force in our adolescence. It gave us a self-awareness and self-confidence that changed us forever.
None of us read all of the 481,563 articles published last year on the early life and struggles of the soon-to-be president of the United States, but most of us know that if Barack Obama had not discovered basketball he would not have become the leader he is today. On the opposite end of that scale of significance, I compiled the worst record ever at my high school, 0-14, in league play as the tennis team’s No. 1 singles player. I didn’t care much about winning. I got some exercise, and something even better. I was a total nerd, but I could strut around with my very own varsity letter, just like the football players. I still carry that morale boost.

Chicago Public League to ban cheering at basketball games

Ethel Fenig:

ell that didn’t take long; the glow from the inauguration of the first African-American president is rapidly dimming. In President Barack Hussein Obama’s (D) Chicago, the school system, recently under the superintendency of new Education Secretary Arne Duncan,
issued the following directives for high school sports competitions.
The Public League is taking drastic measures to curb a rash of violence that has erupted at its basketball games in the last week.

Records show Waunakee School District didn’t slow drinking party investigation

Matthew DeFour:

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.

Coming to Attention: Basketball at St. Johns Military Academy

Art Kabelowsky:

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.

A New Indoor Pool/Parking Complex at Madison West High School?

A proposed $17,624,450 eight lane indoor pool, diving well, fitness center, community activity/wellness pool and a two-level parking deck for Madison West High School was on Monday evening’s Madison School Board agenda [441K PDF].
I found this interesting and wondered if funding might come from an earmark (McCain / Feingold on earmarks), or possibly the Obama stimulus (the “splurge”, or borrowing on our grandkids credit cards).
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s wishlist (it includes $14,000,000 for “public pools at Warner Park and Reindahl”, but no funds for this, as far as I can see).
I have not seen the details of Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle’s “stimulus” list.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, in light of the District’s strategic plan, academic priorities, other high school facilities and how the operating costs are covered.
Listen to the discussion: 23MB mp3 audio fileDoug Erickson.

High school football stars on display

Diane Pucin:

On Sunday, ESPN will televise the Under Armour High School All-America High School football game from the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando at 5 p.m. PT.
USC and UCLA fans will be able to see several players who have committed to their teams.
For the Trojans, playing on the White team: Santa Ana Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley; Calhoun (S.C.) County wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey; and Agoura High offensive lineman Kevin Graf.
For the Bruins, also playing on the White team: Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos quarterback Richard Brehaut; Carson High receiver Morrell Presley; and Kapolei, Hawaii, offensive lineman Stan Hasiak.

2008 NCAA Division 1 Sports Graduation Success Rates


The NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and the Academic Success Rate (ASR) were developed in response to college and university presidents who wanted graduation data that more accurately reflect the mobility among college students today. Both rates improve on the federally mandated graduation rate by including students who were omitted from the federal calculation.
The GSR measures graduation rates at Division I institutions and includes students transferring into the institutions. The GSR also allows institutions to subtract student-athletes who leave their institutions prior to graduation as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete had they remained.
The ASR measures graduation rates at Division II institutions and is very similar to the GSR. The difference is that the ASR also includes those freshmen who were recruited to the institution but did not receive athletics financial aid.

Comparing College’s Athletic Admission Qualifications

Atlanta Journal Constitution:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gathered information about athletes’ admissions qualifications from 54 public universities nationwide. We surveyed the members of every Bowl Championship Series conference, plus the University of Memphis and the University of Hawaii, two other public schools that finished in the 2007-08 season’s football or men’s basketball Top 25s.
The information listed here was calculated from data contained in a report, called an NCAA certification self-study, that each school files once every 10 years. Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh refused to provide the information. The University of Kansas and West Virginia University said their most recent NCAA certification self-study did not include the information. Kansas State University deleted all of its sport-by-sport data.
The SAT scores are on the 1600-point scale that predates the addition of an SAT writing component. For schools that reported ACT scores, we derived comparable SAT scores using the NCAA’s conversion chart. Some schools refused to provide men’s basketball SAT scores on the grounds it would violate the privacy rights of individual athletes.

A few links:

Jamestown, ND starts women’s wrestling program

Eric Peterson:

Jamestown College athletic director Lawrie Paulson anticipated some would have a skewed view of his school’s first-year women’s wrestling program.
“I think for a lot of people who heard ‘women’s wrestling,’ they thought we were going to have a place with mud or Jell-O in there,” he said.
Paulson, a 1977 Jamestown College graduate, recalls his college days in the early Title IX years as a time when such women’s sports as basketball and volleyball were viewed with similar cynicism.
“This is never going to go; this is never going to go,” Paulson said in reference to what skeptics thought of those sports at that time.
Any doubts Paulson had about his school’s newest female athletic offering were answered swiftly.

Schools Invest in Athlete’s Degrees

Christ Talbott:

From the moment he stepped on campus, 320-pound tackle Michael Oher seemed destined to be a star on Mississippi’s football team and a failure in its classrooms.
Oher was the son of a crack-addicted single mom, and as a teen could barely read. His educational record – 11 schools in nine years as he moved from home to home in Memphis – read like an indictment of a failed education system.
But four years later, at a school that graduates fewer than 60 percent of all students within six years, Oher has cleared every hurdle and nearly earned his degree – all that stands between him and graduation are a final semester and workouts for the NFL draft.
“I haven’t struggled a bit in college,” the All-American offensive lineman says. “It’s been a breeze.”
It’s a tribute to Oher’s determination and character, to be sure.
His story also says something about the state of big-time college athletics.
Like a lot of other athletes at Ole Miss and elsewhere, Oher got not only tutoring help but a full range of academic support services throughout his career. At Ole Miss, 14 full-time staffers line up tutors for student-athletes, help them choose classes, monitor study halls and check attendance. More than 60 percent of the Rebels’ 390 athletes receive at least some tutoring, and together they averaged about 1,000 sessions a week this fall.
Such services are not unusual.

Oher was featured in the recent book “Blindside“.

Do It Yourself Athletic Scholarship

Matthew Futterman:

Kirsten Bladek had a problem.
Three weeks into her senior season on the Monarch High School volleyball team in Colorado, the 5-feet, 10-inch setter found herself warming the bench. Her dream of an athletic scholarship seemed dead — especially since her family couldn’t afford the $1,000 or so that many parents pay these days to hire a private athletic-recruiting counselor.
But then in September, Ms. Bladek spent $39.99 to post her athletic résumé and pictures of her playing on the Web site The shots, combined with videos posted later, highlighted her ability to set the ball from in front of her forehead, with arms thrust out like Superman in flight. That display, combined with some telephone campaigning by Kirsten and her mother, got college coaches to start paying attention.

Wide world of greed

by Yvonne Abraham
Globe Columnist / December 7, 2008
The Boston Globe
The Dorchester Eagles, the powerhouse of their Pop Warner football league, had another undefeated season this year.
Their regional championship earned them a spot in the national playoffs in Florida. Oh, and a week of acute anxiety over how to get there.
It’s as messed up as it is predictable. Every year around this time, talented kids and their coaches across the country scramble to raise tens of thousands of dollars so they can compete in the Pop Warner superbowl.
Little Leaguers go to their World Series in Williamsport, Pa., for free. Why do Pop Warner teams have to come up with as much as 45 grand to go to the playoffs they’ve spent an entire season working toward?
One big reason: unlike Little League, Pop Warner doesn’t have its own stadium or dorms. So, for more than a decade now, the Super Bowl has been held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
And under its contract with Pop Warner, Disney has the whole thing locked down. To compete in Disney’s pristine facilities, players must stay at Disney hotels and buy passes to its theme parks. They eat in Disney restaurants, with nonrefundable Disney dining cards, and they use Disney transportation.

Continue reading Wide world of greed

High Schools Fight Doping With Little Consensus

Jere Longman:

The sheriff of St. Landry Parish announced in July that an undercover investigation of area gyms had produced the largest anabolic steroid bust ever in this rural Cajun county.
In an investigation that has identified about 100 suspected steroid users and 15 dealers in the county, 10 people have been arrested, including two former high school football players, the sheriff said. He added that of those 100 suspected users, as many as 20 were high school athletes. That number stunned educators and law enforcement officials who had considered performance-enhancing drugs to be more of a big-city problem.
“I think there’s more steroid use, after talking to my investigators, in sports activities than originally thought,” said Bobby J. Guidroz, the sheriff of St. Landry Parish, population 90,000, about two hours west-northwest of New Orleans.

Putting the Student Before the Athlete

Michael Wilbon:

I’m dropping the pretense of having no rooting interest this week. I’m rooting for Myron Rolle as if he’s a blood relative. I’m rooting for his flight from Birmingham, Ala., to Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport to be on time. I’m rooting for him to make it to Byrd Stadium by halftime at the very latest, for him to get into uniform and play as many snaps as possible for Florida State. Most of all, I’m rooting for him to wow the panelists in his Rhodes Scholarship interview earlier in the day.
Texas Tech and Oklahoma will get the majority of the college football attention this weekend, but Rolle is the best story. He’s not the first football player up for one of 32 Rhodes Scholarships. In fact, a Yale defensive back, Casey Gerald, will be in Houston today as one of 13 region finalists. But while Yale is as much a part of college football’s history as Florida State, let nobody suggest that the football pressures in the Ivy League match those at a school such as Florida State, where Rolle’s defensive coordinator once suggested the kid might be devoting too much time to academics and not enough to football.

Academic Credit for Sports in Texas

Terrence Stutz:

The proposal, which could go into effect as early as next school year, would allow four years of sports to count as elective credits toward graduation instead of the current maximum of two years.
The board’s 10-5 vote followed often emotional debate, with both Dallas members – Republican Geraldine Miller and Democrat Mavis Knight – voting no.
Supporters said the move would keep kids in school and spur them to do well in academic courses. Critics charged that the plan would de-emphasize academics and return to the days of “football comes first.”
Ms. Miller was among the most vocal opponents, insisting the plan would “completely dismantle” many of the education reforms enacted in Texas over the last two decades.
“This takes us back to the way things used to be,” she said. “Our school reform movement put everything in perspective, with academics coming first. Now, we are opening the door to water down all the efforts we have made to strengthen standards in our schools.”
But Craig Agnew, the Brenham High School coach and teacher who petitioned the board to adopt the rule, said an “unfair burden” exists for student athletes who must meet stringent course requirements to retain their athletic eligibility.

High School Rugby Team Breaks Down Barriers

Will Bardenwerper:

The rugby practice field at Hyde Leadership Public Charter School bears little resemblance to the manicured lawns of the English boarding school where the sport was born. It is more brown than green, and sirens sometimes drown out the shouts of players. Then there are the occasional interruptions, like when play was briefly halted during a recent practice as a man darted about wildly on a nearby street, calling football plays and evading imaginary tacklers.
But this patch of mud and grass is more than the home of what is believed to be the nation’s first all-African-American high school rugby team. It is also where a growing number of students have been exposed to a sport they once knew nothing about and to parts of society that once seemed closed to them.
Hyde players have a hard time explaining rugby to friends who do not attend their school and who do not know much about the sport. Others say things like, “You’re crazy, that’s a white person’s sport,” said Lawrenn Lee, a senior on the team. One parent, Clifford Lancaster, recalled his reaction when his son Salim announced he was going to play: “My eyes got this big. I said, ‘That’s a wild sport.’ “

Athletes Choose Colleges
They’re good to go For some top high school athletes, decision on college comes this week

Brendan Hall:

Her dazzling fastball and sizzling bat have been on the radar of college coaches for quite a while. As a junior at Ashland High School, Nicole D’Argento was named the state’s softball player of the year.
Letters from colleges started arriving for D’Argento, a senior this year, in the summer of 2005, before her freshman year. Now, that stack of letters sits in her living room and “looks at least a foot tall,” she said recently with a laugh.
Softball has long been a year-round commitment for D’Argento. Her older brother, Russ, played baseball at Old Dominion and the University of Connecticut after helping propel Ashland High to the Division 3 state title in 2000.
Last spring, Nicole hurled the Clocker softball team to a perfect 28-0 season, and the Division 2 state title. She has a career earned-run average hovering under 0.50 and she will enter her senior season just 16 strikeouts shy of the exclusive 500 mark for her high school career.
With so many colleges lining up for her services, D’Argento made her decision early.
Last fall, she made a nonbinding verbal agreement to attend Boston College, which nosed out the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Virginia.

Continue reading Athletes Choose Colleges
They’re good to go For some top high school athletes, decision on college comes this week

Are We Pushing Our Young Athletes Too Hard?

Scott Shafer:

When Lori Molitor’s 9-year-old daughter, Madison, participates in gymnastics, she wears a heel cushion. After her training session she ices. And before she goes to bed she stretches. All of this is done in hopes of keeping her injury-free as she continues her progression as a budding gymnast.
The Verona mother’s cautious approach with her daughter was borne partially from observing her eldest daughter deal with injuries while competing in sports, but many parents remain in the dark about the dangers of overtraining.
To address that problem, Harbor Athletic Club will host a presentation on the topic on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Guest speakers include Dr. David Bernhardt, a pediatric physician at UW Sports Medicine, and Kierstin Kloeckner, a personal trainer at the Middleton club.
Their message: Young athletes may think they’re indestructible, but they must be treated with care.

What School Sports Taught These Political Contenders

Preston Williams:

For the 2008 presidential hopefuls, the road to the White House included an extended stay in the field house. No matter which ticket prevails Tuesday, a pair of former high school athletes will run the country come January.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was a reserve on the Punahou Academy basketball team that won the 1979 state title in Hawaii. He would be the first serious basketball player to occupy the Oval Office.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) competed in several sports at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, most notably wrestling.

At Pinnacle, Stepping Away From Basketball

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

Nick Saban’s Fine Print

Buzz Bissinger
It’s a couple of weeks ago and I am watching the Alabama-Clemson football game. It’s a pretty good contest, actually. The Crimson Tide is in the groove against a Top 10 team. But that’s not what truly interests me.
I am watching the fans in various states of rabidity, wondering how long it takes to wash all that school-color gunk off your body once you lacquer it on, not to mention what precisely motivates someone to apply such gunk in the first place. I am watching the cheerleaders in their somersaults and squats of perfect synchronism with those slapped-on smiles. I am just watching the crazy spectacle of it all — frenzy and bloodlust and the low rumble of moans and the high-pitch of screams. I wonder why we need any more studies showing our nation’s education system to be in the tank when all you have to do is attend a college football game.

Under Pressure

Matthew Futterman:

Intense, highly involved parenting can create star children like golf prodigies Josh and Zach Martin. But it can also come at a cost. What’s driving hard-driving parents?
Bowie and Julie Martin shuttled their sons for five years to a never-ending series of practices, lessons and games in a half-dozen sports before finally suggesting the boys focus on a single pursuit, golf, the game where the children showed the most promise.
Josh and Zach Martin were 6 and 8.
“I just wanted them to be great at something,” Mr. Martin explains.
So far, so good. Today, the Martin family’s single-minded pursuit has produced perhaps the two best young golfers living under the same roof anywhere. Their two-bedroom townhouse beside the 17th hole of a golf course in Pinehurst, N.C., is an exhibit space for dozens of oversized silver and crystal trophies that Josh and Zach have won, including 11 at international tournaments.

Packers Launch Anti-Steroid Initiative in 7 Wisconsin High Schools

Green Bay Packers:

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.

Prep Huddle: Who has toughest job? It’s the kids

Rob Hernandez:

Sure, it’s no picnic trying to keep tabs on the many teams from the 119 high schools in 19 conferences around Southern Wisconsin that we try to cover.
But I doubt it’s the most difficult job in high school sports.
Of course, that begs th�e question: Who has the toughest job in high school sports?
Is it WIAA executive director Doug Chickering, who must deal with a growing roster of high school sports advocates and their conflicting agendas?
Is it the school board members who love the exposure their district gets when a team makes it to a state tournament but wish someone else would pay the expense of getting them on the field?
Is it the parents who believe their child is being mishandled by their coach and have enough class not to say anything to avoid embarrassing themselves or their child?
Is it the parents who decide to make a stink about the situation, successfully orchestrate the removal of the coach and watch the team struggle to a 2-19 record the next season?

It’s not a tax. It’s a fee — for school sports and a whole lot more

David Dahl:

Schools throughout greater Boston are raising fees for sports and other activities. While it’s not a property tax increase, the school fees are yet another way local governments are reaching into the pockets of parents to raise money.
North of Boston, for example, Hamilton-Wenham football games will cost close to $100 a pop this fall. That’s not for seats on the 50-yard line, but what players who suit up for the Generals pay to play: a $969 user fee, the highest for football in communities north of Boston.

Give Education a Sporting Chance

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.

Illinois High School Basketball Star Leaves for Prep School

Michael O’Brien & Scott Powers:

It has happened again.
For the second consecutive year, the best basketball player in the state’s senior class is packing up and heading to prep school.
Peoria Central guard and Illinois recruit DJ Richardson announced on Monday that he will spend his senior season at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.
That’s the same school that Washington’s DeAndre Liggins spent his senior year at last season.
“It was my family’s idea,” Richardson said. “It’s because of the ACT. I had a good GPA, just not the ACT. I’m not far off. I just took it two times. I think I could do better. There is no reason to take chances so I’m just going to prep school.”
According to Richardson, the Illinois coaching staff gave him a list of prep schools to choose from.

Winston’s Streetball brings hoops to south side

Dennis Semrau:

Johnny Winston Jr. was wearing a powder blue T-shirt, just like the rest of his numerous volunteers at Penn Park early Saturday afternoon.
The founder and organizer of the eighth annual Streetball and Block Party that bears his name, Winston said most of his work is done in the months leading up to the event, which was held at Penn Park on Madison’s south side.
“The thing pretty much runs itself,” Winston said, “but there is tons of prep work that has to be done to pull it off. That’s what takes the most time.”
However, Winston, who is a city of Madison firefighter, a member of the Madison Metropolitan School District School Board and resident jack-of-all-trades in his community, was ready to make a quick change if necessary.

Milwaukee’s Rufus King Out of 2009 Boys Basketball Tournament

Art Kabelowsky:

Altered test scores, illegal recruiting force decision
After a five-month internal investigation by Milwaukee Public Schools officials produced evidence of recruiting and test-score tampering, the Rufus King boys basketball team has been barred from competing in the 2009 state tournament.
Though the tournament ban was an internal sanction, King’s basketball program has also been placed on probation for the next two school years by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Also, a King assistant boys basketball coach has been fired from his coaching position, although MPS Communications Director Roseann St. Aubin said Wednesday that the former coach was allowed to retain his full-time job at a different MPS facility.
The Journal Sentinel has received a copy of a letter from King principal Marie Newby-Randle that was mailed Wednesday to every family with a student enrolled at King for 2008-’09.

Woman to coach Fennimore varsity boys

Tyler Mason:

When Allison Meyer was a forward on the Fennimore High School girls basketball team in the mid-1990s, all eyes were on her. On her way to winning all-conference honors her sophomore through senior seasons, Meyer ‘s play turned quite a few heads.
Now, she ‘s back at her alma mater turning heads again — for a different reason.
Earlier this summer, the 29-year-old Meyer was named Fennimore boys varsity basketball coach. She will replace Mark Fifrick, who stepped down after 12 seasons.
Fifrick approached Meyer — who coached the school ‘s junior varsity boys team the past two years — and encouraged her to go after the job.

High school basketball talent, college staffs swarm Vegas

Eric Sondheimer:

Las Vegas is a city known for making and breaking dreams, and that’s where hundreds of high school basketball players have converged this week hoping to lock up college scholarships.
For five days beginning today, coaches will be out en masse observing and scouting the biggest collection of teenage talent in the nation, with nearly 900 travel teams playing in four tournaments in dozens of high school gyms spread across the city.
In attendance will be the nation’s most recognizable college coaches and just about everyone else whose business is basketball, with shoe company and apparel executives, agents and professional scouts joining the Elvis impersonators.
The most important requirement for a coach: “If you don’t have GPS, you’re in trouble,” USC assistant Bob Cantu said.

Texas high school athletes could receive more credits for sports

Terrence Stutz:

Texas high school students who play football, basketball and others sports could receive twice as much as credit toward graduation under a proposed rule being considered by the State Board of Education.
The proposal — allowing four years of sports to count for credit instead of two — was brought to the board by a coach from Brenham High School, who said new graduation requirements that took effect with freshmen last year discriminate against student athletes by slicing the time available for participation in athletics.
Under the new state requirements — ordered by the Legislature — students need four years each of math, science, English and social studies — the so-called 4×4 core courses — along with their electives and a handful of other required classes such as two years of foreign language and 1 ½ years of physical education.
In all, the number of credits needed to get a diploma will increase from 24 to 26 for students graduating in 2011.

Their 3 R’s include running

Amy Hetzner:

Midday recess at Riverside Elementary School had reached a cacophonic pitch Monday, with students tossing assorted balls through the air, when a class of kindergartners added to the mix by bolting around the play area.
Far from scolding the children, their teachers encouraged the activity.
What happens on this vast plot of gravel, the thinking goes, can be as important as what goes on inside the classroom.
“When you’re talking about education, you have to look at the whole child,” Riverside counselor Kara Baker said, “because if they’re not well, they’re not going to learn.”
That focus on wellness has won the school recognition over the past two years, as a Governor’s School Health Award silver-level winner.
Riverside was the only Waukesha County school to receive the award in 2008. James Fenimore Cooper School in Milwaukee was a gold award winner.

Rod Carew Leads Education Workshop

Michael Schwartz:

Hall of Famer Rod Carew felt right at home Wednesday morning speaking to a group of Temple City High School teachers as part of a traveling education workshop put on by the Hall of Fame, right down to receiving a school hat with a “TC” logo much like his old Minnesota Twins cap as a gift.
Carew told the enthralled group of Southern California educators the story of his life and career, from growing up in Panama, to not making his high school team, to being discovered by a Twins scout on a sandlot field in New York, to becoming an 18-time All-Star elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Because of his life journey, he often tells kids not to let anybody tell them they can’t do something, because anything can happen in life.
“It’s OK to dream, because dreams do come true,” said Carew, whose career proves that point. “No matter what walk of life you take.”

Summer no holiday for college coaches, high school football prospects

Bill Conley:

Memorial Day marks the time high school and college students are anxious for the school year to end and the summer to begin; graduation ceremonies take place and families plan their vacations.
Not so fast!
College football coaches and athletes who are going into their senior season of high school football have other plans. For both college staffs and high school athletes, the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is extremely important for recruiting.

“Legendary Madison West Girls Soccer Coach Retiring”

Dennis Semrau:

While the administrative headaches he has endured this year have played a huge factor in his decision to retire from coaching, Kaehler preferred to talk about why he enjoyed coaching a sport with which he didn’t become involved until he was an adult.
“I was a four-sport athlete. I played football, basketball and baseball and I ran track at Delavan-Darien High School. I’ve been involved in sports all my life and I played semi-pro basketball in Europe, in Grenoble, France,” he said. “I picked up the game of soccer in France. I was there six years and it took me about two years to appreciate the game. What I’ve always said is that soccer is a player’s sport. It’s not a coach’s sport.

High School Ranks Have Been Infiltrated by Agents

Pete Thamel:

The only real surprise, coaches and others said, was that Mayo had been accused of taking money from a person described as a “runner” for an agent. Mayo has denied the accusations.
“This has been happening over the past few years that agents and runners have been able to get into the high school ranks,” Illinois Coach Bruce Weber said.
In the report, ESPN described how Rodney Guillory, an event promoter with a history of breaking N.C.A.A. rules, started giving gifts to Mayo when he played for Huntington High School in West Virginia. The report said that Guillory did so with money from Bill Duffy Associates, the agency Mayo ultimately signed with in declaring for next month’s N.B.A. draft. Duffy has denied giving money to Guillory for Mayo.

Despite Funding Issues, Public Schools Row On

Matt McFarland:

This afternoon, at the oldest and largest high school regatta in the country, a Fairfax County public school boys’ rowing team, in its 19th year, will attempt to win the Stotesbury Cup for the fourth time in five years. It will duel with private schools such as St. Joseph’s Prep of Philadelphia, a perennial national power that recently built a $3 million boathouse.
Jefferson doesn’t have its own million-dollar boathouse. The Fairfax team will row down Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River in a boat in which the naming rights of each seat had to be sold to raise $6,100 for the team.
The Jefferson boys’ team, one of the most successful high school sports teams in the Washington area, receives no financial funding from Fairfax County. Jefferson’s recent success exceeds other area teams, but like all their area public competition, the Colonials must hold fundraisers.

Girls Who Play Too Much

Ruth Conniff:

Everyone knows an athlete who has been sidelined by injury. I can think of two off the top of my head: star football players I knew in high school and college, both of whom suffered career-ending knee injuries and struggled with almost existential crises as they adjusted to life as regular humans instead of campus gods.
But in a provocative cover story this week in The New York Times Sunday magazine, “Hurt Girls” (adapted from the forthcoming book Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports), author Michael Sokolove posits that female athletes suffer far greater rates of injury than males. The injury crisis is so severe, relates Sokolove, it casts the whole Title IX revolution in women’s sports in a grim light.
“I’m afraid for her and for all these girls,” Sokolove quotes the mother of an injured soccer player saying. “What’s it going to be like for them at 40 years old? They’re in so much pain now. Knees and backs and hips, and they just keep on going…. Are they going to look back and regret it?”

Football, Dartmouth and a Third Grade Teacher

George Vecsey:

Williams, 53, is not just any retired player. He has been a shining light of the N.F.L., his name even floated around when the commissionership was open a couple of years ago. And he won awards for citizenship and sportsmanship while playing in two Super Bowls.
Before the 1982 Super Bowl near Detroit, not far from his childhood home in Flint, Mich., he told reporters how he had been underachieving in the third grade until his teacher, Geraldine Chapel, sent him off for tests that proved he was quite smart but hard of hearing. The hearing improved, and so did his self-image and his schoolwork.
Williams majored in psychology at Dartmouth and was all-Ivy linebacker for three years as well as an Ivy heavyweight wrestling champion. Undersized at 6 feet and 228 pounds, Williams merged his intelligence and his outsider’s drive to make the Bengals.

The Uneven Playing Field

Michael Sokolove:

BY THE TIME JANELLE PIERSON SPRINTED ONTO THE FIELD for the start of the Florida high-school soccer playoffs in January, she had competed in hundreds of games since joining her first team at 5. She played soccer year-round — often for two teams at a time when the seasons of her school and club teams overlapped. Like many American children deeply involved in sports, Janelle, a high-school senior, had traveled like a professional athlete since her early teens, routinely flying to out-of-state tournaments. She had given up other sports long ago, quitting basketball and tennis by age 10. There was no time for any of that, and as she put it: “Even if you wanted to keep playing other sports, people would question you. They’d be, like, ‘Why do you want to do that?’ ”
Janelle was one of the best players on a very good high-school team, the Lady Raiders of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. A midfielder and a 2007 first-team, all-Broward-County selection, she had both a sophistication and a fury to her game — she could adroitly put a pass right on the foot of a teammate to set up a goal, and a moment later risk a bone-jarring collision by leaping into the air to head a contested ball.
That she was playing at all on this day, though, was a testament not to her talent but rather to her high threshold for pain, fierce independence and formidable powers of persuasion. Janelle returned to action a little more than five months after having an operation to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, or A.C.L., in her right knee. And just 20 months before that, she suffered the same injury to her other knee.

Moore’s Law, Culture & School Change


Here, buried in my sixth paragraph, is the most important nugget: we’ve reached the point in our (disparate) cultural adaptation to computing and communication technology that the younger technical generations are so empowered they are impatient and ready to jettison institutions most of the rest of us tend to think of as essential, central, even immortal. They are ready to dump our schools.
I came to this conclusion recently while attending Brainstorm 2008, a delightful conference for computer people in K-12 schools throughout Wisconsin. They didn’t hold breakout sessions on technology battles or tactics, but the idea was in the air. These people were under siege.
I started writing educational software in 1978. The role of instructional technology has changed since then from a gimmick to a novelty to an effort to an essential component of any curriculum. Kids can’t go to school today without working on computers. But having said that, in the last five years more and more technical resources have been turned to how to keep technology OUT of our schools. Keeping kids from instant messaging, then text messaging or using their phones in class is a big issue as is how to minimize plagiarism from the Internet. These defensive measures are based on the idea that unbound use of these communication and information technologies is bad, that it keeps students from learning what they must, and hurts their ability to later succeed as adults.
But does it?
These are kids who have never known life without personal computers and cell phones. But far more important, there is emerging a class of students whose PARENTS have never known life without personal computers and cell phones. The Big Kahuna in educational discipline isn’t the school, it is the parent. Ward Cleaver rules. But what if Ward puts down his pipe and starts texting? Well he has.
Andy Hertzfeld said Google is the best tool for an aging programmer because it remembers when we cannot. Dave Winer, back in 1996, came to the conclusion that it was better to bookmark information than to cut and paste it. I’m sure today Dave wouldn’t bother with the bookmark and would simply search from scratch to get the most relevant result. Both men point to the idea that we’re moving from a knowledge economy to a search economy, from a kingdom of static values to those that are dynamic. Education still seems to define knowing as more important than being able to find, yet which do you do more of in your work? And what’s wrong with crimping a paragraph here or there from Cringely if it shows you understand the topic?
This is, of course, a huge threat to the education establishment, which tends to have a very deterministic view of how knowledge and accomplishment are obtained – a view that doesn’t work well in the search economy. At the same time K-12 educators are being pulled back by No Child Left Behind, they are being pulled forward (they probably see it as pulled askew) by kids abetted by their high-tech Generation Y (yes, we’re getting well into Y) parents who are using their Ward Cleaver power not to maintain the status quo but to challenge it.

There’s no question that revolution is in the air. The education process is ripe for change for a number of reasons, including those mentioned by Cringely. We’ve seen substantial education spending increases over the past decade, which are unlikely to continue growing at the same pace, given other spending priorities such as health care and infrastructure. The ongoing flap over the proposed Madison report card changes is another example of change in the air. Links:

Cringely has posted a followup article here.

Middle school sports proposal really a tax hike

Don Huebscher:

The issue: A proposal to allow non-public school students to play on sports teams at Eau Claire’s public middle schools.
Our view: The purpose is to skirt state-imposed levy limits, which doesn’t get at the heart of the problems that cause ongoing government deficits.
At first blush, an Eau Claire school district proposal to invite non-public school middle-schoolers to participate in seventh- and eighth-grade athletics seems like a nice gesture to offer team sports opportunities to young people who otherwise might not have them.
But no doubt the key reason for the proposal, which the board hasn’t approved, is that it allows the school district to move $705,000 from the general fund, which is subject to levy limits, to something called the “community service fund,” which operates outside of those state-imposed constraints.
School board member Mike Bollinger leveled with the taxpayers at last week’s board meeting. “I want to be very, very clear to our public – this is a ($705,000) tax increase … in a non-referendum format. If there is input to be had out there, we want to hear it.”

Growing Cheers for the Home-Schooled Team

Joe Drape:

Taber Spani, one of the best high school girls basketball players in the nation, holds hands with two opponents as a coach reads a Bible verse. It is the way each game in the National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championships begins.
This is more than a postseason tournament for the 300 boys and girls teams from 19 states that have competed here over the past six days. As the stands packed with parents and the baselines overrun by small children attest, this is also a jamboree to celebrate faith and family.
“You build friendships here with other girls who know what it’s like to be self-motivated and disciplined and share your values,” said Spani, a junior who plays for the Metro Academy Mavericks of Olathe, Kan. “I wouldn’t trade this tournament for anything.”
Only a decade ago, home-school athletics was considered little more than organized recess for children without traditional classrooms. Now, home-school players are tracked by scouts, and dozens of them have accepted scholarships to colleges as small as Blue Mountain in Mississippi and as well known as Iowa State.

Monona Grove considers artificial turf

Gena Kittner:

The Monona Grove School District is considering artificial turf to resolve long-standing problems with its high school field.
The field, which hosts girls and boys soccer and pee wee, youth and high school football, is overused, often resulting in a muddy, damaged mess before the end of the season.
“It ‘s not so much the pressure we put on it, (but) we have no time for maintenance, ” said Jeff Schreiner, activities director for the Monona Grove School District.

Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships

Bill Pennington
At youth sporting events, the sidelines have become the ritual community meeting place, where families sit in rows of folding chairs aligned like church pews. These congregations are diverse in spirit but unified by one gospel: heaven is your child receiving a college athletic scholarship.
Parents sacrifice weekends and vacations to tournaments and specialty camps, spending thousands each year in this quest for the holy grail.
But the expectations of parents and athletes can differ sharply from the financial and cultural realities of college athletics, according to an analysis by The New York Times of previously undisclosed data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and interviews with dozens of college officials.
Excluding the glamour sports of football and basketball, the average N.C.A.A. athletic scholarship is nowhere near a full ride, amounting to $8,707. In sports like baseball or track and field, the number is routinely as low as $2,000. Even when football and basketball are included, the average is $10,409. Tuition and room and board for N.C.A.A. institutions often cost between $20,000 and $50,000 a year.

The Marketing of High School Sports

Texas Monthly:

If you think high school sports are too slick, too big-time, or too professional, just wait. When this Ohio transplant has his way—and he will—they’re going to get slicker, bigger, and much more pro. Stephenson, the former president of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, founded Titus Sports Marketing in 2003. The company’s first major deal came a year later, when it sold naming rights for the Tyler Independent School District’s stadium to Trinity Mother Frances Health System for $1.92 million, the largest such contract for a high school ever. In September 2007 Titus also put together the Clash of Champions, a game televised on ESPNU between the best high school football team in Florida, Miami Northwestern, and the best in Texas, Southlake Carroll. Northwestern won the game (hyped as “the biggest game in the history of high school football”) 29—21, but the real winner may have been Stephenson.
Where did you get the idea for Titus?
I knew high schools were looking at ways of maximizing revenue. A lot of districts are looking to give their stadiums a face-lift—to add parking, double the concessions and restrooms, redo the field house. High schools are where colleges were fifteen years ago, and there’s a lot of lost advertising revenue because there’s nobody there to capture it. We’re pioneers. We work with the school district; we sell the assets that they direct us to sell.

Random drug testing at southern Nevada high school working


A random drug testing program for athletes at the Green Valley High School that began Jan. 28 is working, with students talking about why drugs are bad and about doing the right thing, its principal said.
Athletes who test positive for illegal substances jeopardize their eligibility to play or perform while in Nevada public schools.
“It’s been a great success so far,” said principal Jeff Horn. “We’ve tested over 50 individuals now, and things have gone very smoothly.”
Only one student failed to pass random testing because of prescription medication, he said. The prescription was verified with the parents, and the matter was quickly resolved.

Parents Feel Betrayed by Millionaire Role Models

George Vecsey:

They will attend the Congressional hearings Wednesday, the husband and wife with the sad eyes. They have become part of the steroid circuit, honored with reserved seats near the front, silent witnesses to the plague of the last generation.
Frank and Brenda Marrero will be listening to what Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte have to say. They want to be in the same room as Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski, two admitted pushers of illegal bodybuilding drugs. The hearings must now be viewed in a more skeptical vein after lawmakers allowed Clemens to work on them individually late last week, roaming the halls like some supersized K Street lobbyist, explaining that a great man like himself would never do such a thing as take steroids, and doing everything but pass out autographed facsimiles of his rookie chewing-gum card.

The Marreros can only try to understand the whole crazy system of millionaire role-model athletes and local suppliers who provided their son Efrain with steroids, before he obediently went off the stuff and killed himself at 19. It all happened so fast.
Now they gravitate to the hearings, not to disrupt but to distribute fliers about the foundation they have started, about the seminars Frank Marrero gives all over the country, warning youngsters to stay off the stuff, that it isn’t worth it.
Frank and Brenda Marrero were present on March 17, 2005, six months after their son died, when Mark McGwire stammered and turned red and said he didn’t want to talk about the past.

A Few Words on Sports

Sports provide many opportunities for students, often well beyond the physical effort, competition and team building skills. These two articles provide different perspectives on sports, particularly the climate around such activities and the people who give so much time to our next generation.
Matthew Defour:

The Dane County Sheriff ‘s Office has fired Lt. Shawn Haney because he released to the Waunakee School District a report on a September underage drinking party allegedly involving Waunakee High School students.
Lester Pines, attorney for the 21-year veteran of the department who has no previous disciplinary record, said the termination was based on an ethics violation resulting from a “conflict of interest. ”
The sheriff ‘s report described a Sept. 30 incident that led to five people, including a member of the Waunakee High School football team, being charged with various misdemeanors. According to a criminal complaint filed Nov. 13, a witness told sheriff ‘s deputies investigating the party that “the majority of the Waunakee High School football team ” was at the party.
Waunakee School District Superintendent Charles Pursell did not return messages left Tuesday. He previously said several students, including football players, were disciplined in connection with the party and an elementary school teacher ‘s aide accused of hosting the party resigned. He also has said players weren ‘t disciplined before an important playoff game because the district ‘s investigation had not yet determined that any of them attended the party.

Bob Gosman:

The coaching lifer, much like the three-sport varsity athlete, is on its way to extinction.
But walk into a Wisconsin Lutheran boys basketball practice, and it’s obvious there is plenty of life left in that team’s 62-year-old coach.
It has been quite a season for Dale Walz and the Vikings (4-1). Walz picked up his 500th career victory Dec. 7 when the Vikings topped Hartford, 58-47. More good news came Sunday when he learned he will be enshrined in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame next October.
Walz, in his 35th year as a coach at the prep level, enjoys the game as much as ever. The Vikings play host to Slinger in a big Wisconsin Little Ten Conference game tonight at 7:30.
“I’ve known since college I wanted to be a high school basketball coach,” Walz said. “The challenge is always there. There’s not a day that goes by at any time of the year when I don’t think about basketball.”
Walz, an assistant principal at Wisconsin Lutheran, has remained true to himself while making subtle adjustments to how the game and kids have changed since he ran his first practice at Lakeside Lutheran in 1973.
“He’s still intense, but everybody mellows a little,” said Ryan Walz, Walz’s second-oldest son and the Vikings’ junior varsity coach. “He’s changed with the kids, which is part of the reason he’s coached as long as he has.”

I learned a number of things from my coaches many (!) years ago – including Walz. Those include:

  • the benefit of persistence and a willingness to keep on when most others give up, (I consider this an invaluable lesson),
  • Drive, sometimes bordering on fanaticism 🙂
  • The ability to push your body far beyond what was previously possible – and why that is important for one’s self confidence,
  • Competing against the best is the fastest route to improvement,
  • Duplicity, that is; things are not always black and white. The Waunakee story above reminded me of the fog that is athletic conduct rules (or, cheatingmore), something important to understand as one travels through life,
  • Growing up: the minute I realized that the NFL or NBA was not in my future, I became more interested in lifelong pursuits, including academics.

Looking back to the 1970’s, I am astonished at the level of time and effort my coaches put into a ragtag group of kids. Creating winners out of such raw material is an art.
Update: Susan Lampert Smith:

Boy, that Homecoming drinking party in Waunakee has a hangover that won’t go away.
So far, it’s cost the jobs of a Waunakee teacher’s aide, at whose home the party was allegedly held, and that of a 22-year veteran of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, who was apparently fired ratting out the miscreants to the WIAA. Of course, that might have been because his son played for the football team of Waunakee’s arch rival, DeForest.
There are some lessons to be drawn from this fiasco: First, it seems that high school sports are just a little too important to people who are old enough to know better.
DeForest wasn’t the only Badger Conference town where people were rubbing their hands together in glee over rumors that, as one witness told the cops, “the majority of the Waunakee High School football team” was at the party. The celebrants hoped the players would get punished and miss some games. But really, why celebrate an event that could have cost lives in drunken-driving crashes?

Putting on Weight for Football Glory

Jere Longman:

When the Desire Street Academy football team plays in a Louisiana state semifinal playoff game Friday night, the Lions will feature three starting linemen who weigh at least 300 pounds and two others who weigh 270 and 280 pounds, reflecting a trend in which high school players are increasingly reaching a size once seen almost exclusively among linemen in college and the N.F.L.
High school football rosters reveal weight issues that go beyond the nation’s overall increase in obesity rates among children. Two studies this year, one published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and another in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that weight problems among high school football players — especially linemen — far outpaced those of other male children and adolescents.
Now coaches and researchers fear that some young athletes may be endangering their health in an effort to reach massive proportions and attract the attention of college recruiters.
“The old saying was, ‘Wait till you get to college to make it a business,’” said Rusty Barrilleaux, the coach at Hammond High in southeastern Louisiana and a former offensive lineman at Louisiana State. “It’s still fun, but if you want to get to college, you have to get that size. The pressure is definitely on.”

Breaking the Grass Ceiling
Susan Myers quit her job as an investment banker and became one of the nation’s few female high school football coaches.

Russell Adams:

On a Friday night in late October, the Prince of Peace Eagles are about to lose to Rockwall Christian 49-6. As she paces the sidelines, Susan Myers isn’t thinking about gender roles. She’s a coach for an 0-8 team whose players seem to be losing faith in themselves.
As quarterback Austin Smith shuffles off the field, Ms. Myers grabs his jersey and pulls him close until her nose is just a couple of inches from his facemask. Before the season, the Eagles had pointed to their next opponent, a small Catholic school in Irving, Texas, called The Highlands, as one they should beat. She wanted Mr. Smith to send a message to the team. “That’s the game we’ve got to win,” she shouted. “They’ve got to know that’s the game.”
As the wide receivers coach for Prince of Peace, a private Christian School near Dallas, Ms. Myers, 55 years old, is one of only a few women in the nation coaching high school football. So far as the American Football Coaches Association knows, she’s the only one plying her trade in Texas — a state where the boys who play the game and the men who lead them form a current that powers the egos of entire towns. Women operate on the fringes of the football world, mostly to support and validate. They rarely step on the field without a set of pompons.
Morgan Schwab, a wide receiver, had never heard of a female football coach before Prince of Peace hired Ms. Myers. He says he got over the novelty on the second day of spring practice when, during agility and footwork drills, she took a plastic bat to the legs of any players with poor form.

An excerpt from “The Complete Handbook of Coaching Wide Receivers” PDF.

Comparing Sports, Arts is Dangerous Business

“I’m afraid the game is over. In our American academia, the arts must be satisfied with the leftovers.”
Frank Deford
Morning Edition, NPR
A few weeks ago, I offered up the thoughts of Gary Walters, the distinguished athletic director at Princeton, that sport should be held in the same high regard as art.
I thought it was a rather interesting and cogent opinion for someone to posit, but in the fabled words of the longtime football announcer, Keith Jackson: “Whoa, Nellie!” Never have I suffered such a battering. I think the nicest thing I was called in the responses that poured in, dripping with blood, was “apologist dingbat.”
But then, after I withdrew the slings and arrows from my person and assessed the reaction, I realized how almost all the responses didn’t really bother to address the question posed: Whether, in fact, sport might be an art. No, they were just mad, full of rage and fury. But it did serve to inform me all the more how much antipathy there does exist toward the American system of school sports.
Here are just a few of the more restrained comments:

Continue reading Comparing Sports, Arts is Dangerous Business

Cutbacks in Class, Upgrades on the Field

Amy Hetzner:

If successful, Kettle Moraine High School would be the latest school in the state to perform a pricey upgrade to its athletic facilities at a time when many school districts complain they have to reduce services or are holding referendums to raise tax dollars to keep existing programs.
“I don’t think the two efforts are directly in conflict,” said Larry Laux, a member of the field project committee and parent of a football player. “It is a little bit awkward, I’ll grant you that.”
Already, Arrowhead and Brookfield Central high schools have replaced grass football fields with the synthetic stuff. Both were funded by donations from private groups, although the Elmbrook School District has pledged to match half of the $830,000 upgrade of Brookfield Central’s stadium.

Friday Night Luxury?

Russell Adams:

On game days, football fan Tracy French pulls his SUV into a reserved parking spot and rides an elevator to a stadium suite outfitted with plush seats and a big-screen TV.
His team is the Panthers — the Cabot High School Panthers of Cabot, Ark. Mr. French is the president of a local bank that has given about $65,000 to the school’s athletic department over the past five years, and the luxury seats are one of the perks he gets in return. “I would never have thought they’d have these types of facilities,” he says.
Public education may face budget shortfalls across the country, but you wouldn’t know it from the new digs where the high-rollers of high school football are camped on Friday nights. In a development that is changing the way athletics are funded, some public schools are taking a page from the pros’ playbook on VIP seating. Vidalia High School in Georgia spent more than $2 million of public money last year to build a fieldhouse with eight air-conditioned skyboxes. Brookwood High School in Georgia built the Lodge, a facility overlooking the stadium where members of the booster club can lounge on leather couches and have a pregame meal of T-bone steak. Denton, John Guyer and Billy Ryan high schools, which share a new $18.3 million, 12,000-seat stadium in Denton, Texas, added two VIP suites, with tiered seating and cable TV. They rent out one of the suites for $150 a game. At Lucy C. Laney High School, also in Georgia, the principal and county athletic director use the stadium’s two skyboxes in part to entertain boosters, alumni and others over cheese plates and chicken wings.

Narrowing the Field

Elite athletes now dominate many high school teams. As other sports opportunities shrink, average kids lose out.
Shari Roan:

THE long, sweaty summer practices are over. The pep rallies have begun. Fall sports are underway around the nation.
Cory Harkey, 16, is part of the action. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior at Chino Hills High School is symbolic of the elite athlete who has come to dominate interscholastic high school sports. He practices to the point of exhaustion almost daily and plays on private club teams to maintain his star status in several sports. He dreams of a college scholarship in basketball or football, and college scouts undoubtedly will scrutinize his potential during the coming year.
Sara Nael, 17, is not part of any team. A senior at the same school, she won’t go near a volleyball game this fall, having failed to make the team as a freshman. She considered trying out for something else but eventually concluded that playing in high school sports “doesn’t look fun.”
The two students represent what is both positive — and distressing — about the state of youth sports today. High school athletes are fitter, more skilled and better trained than ever before. But these top-notch athletes, say many health and fitness experts, have become the singular focus of the youth sports system — while teenagers of average or low ability no longer warrant attention.

West claims chess title for fourth straight year

A story in The Capital Times reports:

For the fourth consecutive year, Madison West took top honors at the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Championship last weekend at UW-Oshkosh.
West’s top-ranked A team includes Jeremy Kane (who also won Varsity Division 1, 1st Board Champion), Siarhei Biareishyk (who also won Varsity Division 1, 2nd Board Champion), Sam Bell, Gabe Lezra and Geremy Webne-Behrman.
West’s B team placed fifth overall, and includes team members Joe Swiggum, Adeyinka Lesi, Dennis Zuo, Casey Petrashek (who also won Varsity Division 1, 4th Board Champion) and Kenny Casados.
Alex Betaneli and Neal Gleason are West’s chess team coaches.
West chess teams also won three consecutive championships from 1998 through 2000.

Congratulations to the team and coaches.

History Will Be Made On Friday Night!!!

On Friday November 18th at Madison Ice Arena [map] the Madison Metro Lynx invites you to attend their game versus Superior High School at 6:30 p.m. This is the first girls ice game in the history of the Madison Metropolitan School District!
Madison Metro Lynx is a seven school cooperative effort of the MMSD with Madison Memorial serving as lead school. Skaters also attend Middleton, Waunakee and Monona Grove.
For these girls and many other younger female hockey players in Dane County, this sport will provide an additional meaningful opportunity as they progress through their high school years.
We hope to see you as the Madison Metro Lynx play in their first game in their inaugural season.

High School Sports: The Cruelest Cut

Eli Saslow:

He arrived 10 minutes before his fate, so Filip Olsson stood outside Severna Park High School and waited for coaches to post the cut list for the boys’ soccer team.
Olsson, a sophomore, wanted desperately to make the junior varsity, but he also wanted justification for a long list of sacrifices. His family had rearranged a trip to Sweden so he could participate in a preparatory soccer camp; he’d crawled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. for two weeks of camp and tryouts and forced down Raisin Bran; he’d sweated off five pounds and pulled his hamstring.

Sort of related: Sunday’s Doonesbury on overstressing our children.

Continue reading High School Sports: The Cruelest Cut

Commercialism & High School Sports

Robert Andrew Powell takes a rather amazing look at the EA Sports Elite 11, a “camp” for the top 12 (following the Big Ten’s math example, there are 12 high school quarterbacks in this California camp):

Cody Hawkins arrived from Boise, Idaho, wearing Converse sneakers and a rainbow-colored polo shirt he bought for $3 at Goodwill. As soon as he set foot on campus here Monday, Hawkins, along with 11 other top high school quarterbacks, was handed new gear. In an oversized black Nike duffel bag, he found pairs of Nike Shox running shoes and cleats, and a Nike football, the only brand he would be allowed to use for the next four days.
Nike is an official sponsor of the EA Sports Elite 11, which its organizers call a “campetition” for quarterbacks. Orange-flavored Cytomax is the camp’s official sports drink. Muscle Milk Carb Conscious Lean Muscle Formula is the official protein drink, available in vanilla creme, chocolate creme and banana creme flavors. For dinner, campers ate barbecued ribs, chicken breasts and dollops of garlic mashed potatoes provided by Outback Steakhouse, a camp sponsor.

The Insanity of Youth Sports

Mark Purdy:

(Warning: Parent bragging ahead.) My daughter and son, now college students, had terrific school sports experiences by just about any standard. Both played for Central Coast Section and league championship teams at Archbishop Mitty High School. Sarah’s soccer team was ranked No. 1 in the nation for a while. Our son’s basketball team was ranked No. 1 by the Mercury News and reached the NorCal championship game at Arco Arena in Sacramento.
And yet for all of that, I still look back on our family’s trip through the youth and club sports gantlet with emotions that cause me to shake my head, shudder, grimace, get indigestion or . . . yes, scream.
This is what the gantlet does: It takes away the sweetness of simply enjoying a game. As your children progress in sports and the pressure builds from coaches and parents to make sure your kid plays on the “right team” with the “right exposure” so the kid can “move up to the next level,” you can almost feel the whole thing starting to smother you like a blanket.

Continue reading The Insanity of Youth Sports