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Messed Up Priorities

By end0parasite in Culture
Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:42:20 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I stand in line to look under the microscope in biology class. The boy in front of me stares through the eyepiece as the other boy in our group tries to get a view of the slide. Getting bored, I pan around the room. About thirty kids and 15 microscopes.

Meanwhile the Rebel Booster Club is hard at work earning money for the football team. The Booster Club earns money by holding fund-raisers and working the concession stand at games. This year they are working toward the nobel cause of a new locker room for the team.

Back to the biology class. Finally, my turn! I begin to step forward to look through the eyepiece, but the other boy jumps back in and takes my place. What is this?! I start thinking about how much it would take to get 15 new microscopes for our science room so each student could have their own. Not a lot, probably. Maybe as much as a new locker room. Oh, but that idea brings me joy; at least the football team will have a new locker room!

Yes, soon now, the football team will be able to change at the field. They won't have to change at the school and then ride up to the field in the bus. They also won't have to sit on the grass between quarters and time outs! Then, while reading the paper Sunday morning, I am filled with envy.

I am reading about a local college I know of. Ah, yes, this is the one my band teacher came from. It reads

Wartburg College is undertaking its most ambitious building program and fund-raising campaign in the college's nearly 150-year history.

The project kicks off this month when workers raze the football stadium to make way for a new 4,000-seat facility, a new track and nearby soccer fields.

Oh well, at least my town isn't the only one with screwed up priorities. Or is it? I read on...
That begins a string of capital projects that includes a revamped Student Union, better science, communications and fine arts facilities and a new campuswide data network.

Wow! I had no idea we were so unlucky. Back in the science room I finally get the chance to use the microscope. To bad the rare bacterium that was on the slide swam away and is gone now. Guess I'll have to settle with looking at microscopic air bubbles.


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Messed Up Priorities | 36 comments (35 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Money goes to those who work for it (4.00 / 23) (#1)
by BonzoESC on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 12:44:28 PM EST

The football booster club is raising money for a new locker room because they desire such a thing, and wish to work towards that goal. If you were to get together a 'Science Booster Club' that raised money for new microscopes, that would be perfectly all right. If you were to take all the free money lying around that the football club is currently going after, you would not only be able to buy microscopes, you would have the ability to get back at the thick-headed football players. (There might be non-thick-headed ones in there, but they're rare.)


Normally, my sig is an image.

I agree, but... (4.20 / 10) (#2)
by Chakotay on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:24:02 PM EST

The poster is talking about a biology class vs a football club. Are you implying that students taking an obligatory biology class also have to get out there and raise funds for their class?

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]
Not a fair comparison (3.00 / 6) (#11)
by Giant Space Hamster on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:01:51 PM EST

Which is why it's not a fair comparison. The football club wants a locker room, so they raise money for it on their own. The author would have a point if the school/government were paying for the locker room.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
-- Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Typical (2.60 / 10) (#3)
by delver on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:57:54 PM EST

I don't know where the poster went to school, but down here in Texas this wouldn't even be a supprise. High school football is the single most imporant thing in the Highschool culture where I went. Small towns do it worse I guess, but maybe its just more apparent because theres less money to go around and you notice the lack of stuff more. Every fund raiser we had was for the athletic department. Never mind that the single CS class was learning Pascal on 386's. Never mind that half of the microscopes simply didn't work. But the football team needs new uniforms. So they get them. Yeah, it sucks. Don't know how to fix it, but I sympathise.

Yeah? (1.83 / 6) (#8)
by vsync on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:33:03 PM EST

Never mind that the single CS class was learning Pascal on 386's.

Why are you whining? I learned Pascal using TP4 on an XT, and it was Good.

I do see your overall point, though...

"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]

What's wrong with that? (3.50 / 4) (#9)
by PurpleBob on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:28:49 PM EST

Nothing wrong with Pascal on 386's. That's exactly what the computer programming course at my high school used to be. But then the administration got the idea that Java was the future, so they brought in some new guy straight from college who claimed he knew Java. (He didn't. If you asked him a question that wasn't covered in his notes, he couldn't help you.) So, instead of Pascal on 386s, where you could at least get something done, we were running Java on 486s.

Now, the IDE for Java that the school ended up getting because it was free for educational purposes, was a memory-hogging piece of crap that broke several important interface guidelines, such as "If you're going to make a text widget from scratch in Java just because you can, at least try not to break all the keyboard shortcuts." As it was, because of the lack of a print command and the missing keyboard shortcuts like SHIFT-PAGEDOWN, the only way to print the code was to start at the beginning and press SHIFT-DOWN for each line. When it got to the point where the screen needed to scroll, allow 5 seconds per line for the screen to redraw. Then paste it into Microsoft Word because the school won't let kids at Notepad, they're afraid we'd manage to hack something with it.

Compiling the simplest programs on these computers took something like 30 seconds. About half of that was spent processing the code and the other half was spent redrawing the text box that showed the compiler output.

I yearned for the days of Pascal, where you could type code into your program and it would appear on the screen INSTANTLY instead of after up to 5 seconds of JavaLag, and where the computers just ran DOS and DOSEDIT instead of Windows 95 and the IDE from Hell.

[ Parent ]
Grow up kid. (1.56 / 16) (#4)
by Luke Scharf on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:55:35 PM EST

Nobody that I know takes high school seriously after graduation. You'll see in a couple of years.

College football -- now that pisses me off. :-)

Depends on what part of HS (4.00 / 3) (#23)
by El Volio on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:12:48 AM EST

Yeah, once you're out for a few years, nobody cares about "my high school had better test scores", or even, "We won the regional title three years running". You're right.

At the same time, that doesn't mean HS isn't important. It means that what some people think is essential about HS, isn't. It means that things like the football team, while not insignificant, aren't hugely more important than biology. It means that HS is an important step along the way. Nobody cares about junior high rivalries in 15 years, either, or elementary school playground equipment, but that doesn't make them insignificant. We have to focus on what the schools do (which is, theoretically, partly academics and partly helping the young ones learn to be a part of a society) and help them do it better.

Enough microscopes is a part of that. Enough textbooks is a part of that. Enough physics lab equipment and computers are part of that. And yes, having football and other team sports is, too. Bodily training is beneficial for a little; just not for everything.

(I happen to be a big football fan and always hated biology, but I understand the author's point. Think of it like physics, math, CS, history, whatever floats your boat.)

[ Parent ]

Apples and Oranges (4.26 / 15) (#5)
by temujin on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:08:17 PM EST

It's quite simple: the football team directly generates revenue for schools. From observation, the performance of the football team is usually directly proportional to attendence. Your observations of protozoa do not.

Regarding science class (lab): Why would each student need a microscope? Most lab classes work in groups of 2 or 3, both to maximize resources and to teach "teamwork".

If you aren't getting enough scope time, join your science club or talk your teacher into helping you sponsor one.

Further advice: Be active! Be positive! Organize groups that share your opinions. Petition teachers to help you in your efforts. Go to school board meetings. Team up with other schools in your district. Support your football team, band, and school political system. Join them if possible.

Honestly, I can't count the number of dissatisfied high school students that either sit around waiting to graduate or are confident that progress is not their responsibilty. Does anyone honestly believe Al Gore or George Bush (sorry for the Amero-centrizicm) is going to fix our educational system? We need a massive grass-roots effort from the people who care most about the system: the teachers and students.

My solution: In HS, I utilized Michigan's dual enrollement law and took classes at the local community college. I started a chess club and computer club at my old high school. I involved myself with the art, academic, and athletic groups for my four years. Now, I'm working on my undergrad (EECS), but I intend to return to (helping fix) education when I "grow up". I'll volunteer at the local HS; maybe coaching little league and math camp.

Your environment is your responsibilty. You owe it to yourself and others to at least try. It is possible to generate change. It takes hard work and determination. But trust me- you, your school, and the world will be better for it.

Good ideas there (3.28 / 7) (#10)
by end0parasite on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:30:44 PM EST

It's not that simple. There are about 200 kids in our school. Thus, the farthest their knowledge of computers and chess gets is how to use AOL Instant Messenger and what "castles" and "horses" look like. I won't even touch on their knowledge of science.

However, it would be nice to organize a computer club of some sort. I would teach C/C++ with djgpp, then move on to assembly with TASM. That's all a dream, though. I don't believe anyone in my school is willing to learn such things.

Yes, football generates revenue, but school is not about generating revenue. I don't at all think the Rebel Booster Club should be shut down, just that they need to reconsider their priorities. I'm trying to point out the irony of it all.

[ Parent ]
Fundraising for academic pursuits (none / 0) (#35)
by Asperity on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 02:10:29 AM EST

There were ~2000 students in my high school, but the ones who were motivated to find money for extra activities usually did so. We put together an academic booster club that raised money (semi-successfully) for the science, computer, debate and chess clubs and academic competitions. There was also a foreign language booster club that raised a bit of money for our French, Spanish, German and Latin activities. Each individual club did quite a bit of fundraising as well, usually with candy sales and the like.

Our FIRST robotics team had a harder time raising money, since the costs associated are much higher. With a lot of work petitioning the local corporations for donations of money and other support, as well as the ubiquitous candy sales, we managed that as well.

Unfortunately, our school saw fit to spend tens of thousands of dollars razing our journalism classroom to provide a weight room for our new football team. We complained about it every bit as much as you, and rightly so.

But don't let it get you down -- go looking for ways that you and whatever other students you can get to help you can earn money to pursue the activities you feel are important. There are a lot out there. Try to make deals with other clubs to do joint fundraising if you can. You don't even need to cajole parents and other adult-types into helping, although they can certainly be useful.

Anyway. Good luck to you, and I hope you're able to start something interesting and fulfilling for yourself and future students before you graduate.

[ Parent ]

NonAcademic After School Activities (2.83 / 6) (#12)
by Commienst on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:10:08 PM EST

Why do schools even have these things? What does one learn at Cheerleading, Football, Soccer, Baseball, etc. Non-academic extracurricular activities should in no way be allowed to waste time in schools.

I know in some European countries schools are seperate from youth sports. I do not think it is fair to people who do not like sports, to have to sit through Pep Rallies and listen to sports announcements everyday on the loudspeaker in school.

I hate a Roman named Status Quo and school sports reak of said Roman.

[ Parent ]

I really hope yer not serious... (2.71 / 7) (#13)
by slynkie on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:56:34 PM EST

Not to take away from the original rant, which I for one absolutely agree with (and can identify with), but to say that extra-curricular activities have no place in school is just utter flamebait. oh wait...i'm feeding it. doh.

well, whatever. the point is, sports/clubs/groups and other social settings like those are just as central to a child's education as what they (are supposed to) learn in class. the point of the rant is that our educational system here in the U.S. seems to put those social settings ABOVE the actual education part.

[ Parent ]
I said NON ACADEMIC (2.60 / 5) (#15)
by Commienst on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:57:58 PM EST

I do not think all clubs do not belong. Chess club, Art Club, Debate, Physics club and such do belong they are academic. But if you think that stuff like football and cheerleading belong in school, I hope that you are not serious.

I said nonacademic groups and clubs do not belong, not all clubs.

[ Parent ]

Extra! Extra! Geek defends sports in school! (3.71 / 7) (#17)
by freebird on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:56:22 AM EST

OK, I skipped gym when I could and avoided any organized activity I could in the small amount of High School I attended. And I was harassed endlessly by Jocks for my hippie/skater/punk/geek/whatever ways. So I got my Geek credentials same as all y'all. No frontin here.


If there hadn't been so much stupid boosterism and obvious cog-in-the-societal-machine team-playerism, I might really have enjoyed playing sports. I did before high school and I do now. So while agree that schools often have messed up priorities, removing athletics would be a step in the wrong direction.

Combining athletics with academia has roots going well back into the classical world. I'd go so far as to say one the most negative aspects of Geek Culture(c) is the reactionary dislike of physical exercise. Flame away, I know that's a terrible, inaccurate stereotype, but to deny it has some truth is self-deception at best; at worst, an insidious scheme to turn us all into Daleks...

[ Parent ]

RE: ! Extra! Geek defends sports in school! (4.00 / 6) (#18)
by infinitewaitstate on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:52:39 AM EST

"I'd go so far as to say one the most negative aspects of Geek Culture(c) is the reactionary dislike of physical exercise. "

Is the dislike of physical excercise the dislike, or the dislike of organised physical activity the real dislike? {nitfy repetition..}

Most "geeks" that I know are not adverse to excercise, but they that more into individual, non-competitive, forms of exercise.

Back to the original tone of the article, I'd say it amounts to a case of sour grapes. I'd agree with thoughts articulated by J.D. in "Heaters" in that, [in general] after the the sports season, jocks have nothing to offer, but alcoholism & date rape. It may be a harsh statement, but, football players don't develop the technology of tomorrow. Geeks do.

Geeks activities are not crowd pleasers. If the chess club (IMHO the most pathetic example of geekdom) were to try to generate revenue, they would not, given a similar activity, generate as much revenue as any sports club. It's a sad fact, but, athletics will always attract people's attention, be it the failed NFL star, or the middle-management geek who wishes he'd gotten laid as much (as he perceives the jock to have gotten...)

"Geek" Activities advance the world, sports do not. However, it is a lot, and I stress that, easier to generate support for an athletic enterprise than for a "geek" enterprise, since the jock activity is at least a known.

Even in countries where academics are more the focus than athletics (such as north of the US border), people have an easier time relating to John Doe scoring a touchdown than Ezekiel Smith proving that a potato can power a number of small electrical devices for 3 months. The sad fact is that people can relate more to physical triumph than intellectual growth.

In my experience, I have seen that the would be ggeks may earn more in life, but the average person who finances their development is less likely to do so by intent, but more so by the accident of tax dollars.

You might feel that "geeks" may achieve as much in terms of fund raising if they'd put in the effort, however, they are competing in an arena where they are pitting the unknown versus the known, which is usually a sure way of NOT getting the desired support.

Sure, people may say that technology is the future, however, everyone figures that the academics can survive on their own, but we have to protect the athleticly<sp? - I know I suck...> inclined students, regardless of anything else.

Think about it... the average NFL player will earn as much in 2 years as you will in 30, unless you are a top-flight geek, however, even the top-notch geeks pay attention to what a (potential) mental midget can do with a basketball.

Also, notice that the good looking highschool/college chicks don't cheer for the debating club.

<Ugh>Hope this made sense...
a rather ( tired & inhebriated) me.

... but then again, what do I know?
[ Parent ]

re: I said NON ACADEMIC (2.25 / 4) (#27)
by slynkie on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 07:50:48 PM EST

I understand that you said non-academic. But tell me this:
Why do you have the right to have a chess club, but a "jock" doesn't have the right to have a football team?

I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but from your previous post(s) I would assume you'd argue that whereas a chess club involves intellectual stimulation, football, cheerleading, etc, do not.

maybe, maybe not.
granted, i'm far from a jock (although I do enjoy a good game of Ultimate), but i'm also not so blind as to see football and yes, even cheerleading, as easy and mindless. Football involves strategy, as well as a LOT of time spent practicing, fine-tuning one's body, etc. Cheerleading is (well, supposed to be) a trial of one's body, and from what i've seen, quite intense.

You mentioned an "art club"...what makes art more club-worthy than a sport? Is it because they actually teach art in school...but oh wait, they teach sports during normal academic days as well.

I think what it comes down to, is you disagree with there being sports clubs and other "non-academic" clubs because you don't yourself want to participate in them, and you probably don't particularly like those who do (and i sure as hell tend to agree with you on that, at least). But that's just -your- elitism; switch places, and yer just a dumb jock trying to convince the school board to give him funding to play another season while the physics club doesn't get new microscopes.

[ Parent ]
All clubs belong. (1.00 / 1) (#36)
by Asperity on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 02:33:09 AM EST

I think any sort of school club is fair game, "academic" or not. The disparity in the funding of most school clubs or sports is a real problem, though. In the case of my high school, not even all the sports, much less the academic, recreational, religious, and miscellaneous clubs got official recognition and funding.

And we had plenty of clubs of all kinds. Philosophical, literary, foreign language, technical, you name it and someone had at least thought about trying to start it. And numerous religious clubs, which are required by law to be allowed the same use of school facilities all the other clubs are, and a good thing, too. (Facilities, here, don't cost anything. The school was already open after school, buses were already running to take people home later, and the only thing you had to supply was a faculty adviser and a classroom. Which in my mind is too much.)

I figure the best solution to the funding disparity is to give all student groups equal access to school resources and facilities. Same with the monetary funding, it should be divided between all the groups. I would also like to see the requirement for a faculty sponsor scrapped. That was the most annoying thing about trying to get anything done at my high school -- the requirement to have a faculty advisor sign off on a million forms.

(I know, I know... why couldn't we just have had meetings and such at individual homes or other public places? My school was a magnet school that had students from all over our county, so one student often lived as much as an hour's drive from another student. Didn't work well.)

[ Parent ]
Look at it from their perspective (2.77 / 9) (#7)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:18:20 PM EST

Look forward 15 years. You will be at a nice job, have a nice family, and be thinking and discussing interesting problems that face you and the world you live in. The majority of your classmates will be sitting at a bar in the same, small home town they grew up in, drinking a beer, talking about how great high school was and how much of a football stud they use to be.

Let them have their locker room, it is they will have 5, 10, 15 years from now...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

Spend three hourse a day... (2.20 / 10) (#14)
by Wah on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:46:05 PM EST

...after school every day, abusing your body, sweating in the hot sun, hitting the gym afterward, all for the hope of glory that victory can bring to your community. But instead of having to share microscopes, you get to share lockers with a sweaty-mid-pubescent troll freak who's mama never taught him to shower.

Or take a clue fromt the "enemy" and have your folks organize a bake sale to buy mykro-skopes, you can even sell them at football games.

Priorities indeed.
Fail to Obey?
All that and never learned to spell. (none / 0) (#33)
by Hillgiant on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 07:00:01 PM EST

It is a shame.

For the sake of the gene pool I hope your post was satire.

"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

If it were only so simple ... (3.50 / 4) (#16)
by MoxFulder on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:48:02 AM EST

I agree with you that many schools could use more funding for science and other academic disciplines ... but I seem to have learned a lot in high school science despite the fact that my school didn't always have enough or the right equipment.

Learning isn't the only important part of high school. Creating a community is also important. Sports teams and athletic and recreational facilities help to do that in many ways.

When I was in high school (I'm now a sophomore in college), participating in and watching sports helped me to make friends, gain self discipline, and appreciate my community. Before I ran track and swam in high school, I was a sheltered little computer geek, and sports really transformed me for the better. I still like computers and science, but I love sports too. Often, when I'm hard at work studying, I just have to get outside and burn a lot of energy before I can learn or think any more :-)

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes

Stop your whining! (3.00 / 3) (#19)
by bearclaw on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 09:56:23 AM EST

Read the subject of my post, it says it all. If you have problems with the supplies and equipment of your school, get involved and do somethign about it. This mentality that is present in people today that they are entitled to everything without having to work for anything is absurd.

Yes, in a perfect world, every child would have their own microscope. But this is not a perfect world. Microscopes don't make good scientists, teachers and parents putting in the time and effort to help students does.

Start a fundraiser, get involved. If you beleive in this as passionately as those folks who are raising money for the football team, you'd get your microscopes. And the example you would set for the students of "hard work and perseverence pays off" would be invaluable!

And why do you have a problem with citizens raising money for something they beleive in? It isn't like they are forcing you to give money to them (through taxes, etc).

-- bearclaw
Where the money comes from... (3.66 / 3) (#21)
by Bloodwine on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:13:28 AM EST

Citizens raising money? At my university the board took out money from general education to throw at the athletic department because the athletic department is losing money.

People can fund-raise, buy tickets and merchandise all they want, but the bulk of the funds (atleast at my university) comes from the school's budget (which DOES affect us who would benefit from better equipment and whatnot).

[ Parent ]
Re: Where the money comes from.. (3.00 / 3) (#22)
by bearclaw on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:23:21 AM EST

I was speaking from a public k-12 (US) viewpoint. As for college, if you don't like the way money is spent, do something about it. College is not a right. You pay for it, just like you pay for a car, a house, or a soda at the local 7-11. If more people voiced their oppinions anbd did things, then free-market foces would dictate things like lower tuition costs, remapped fee allocation, and "better" priorities.

The fact is people like sports - get over it. If you do not like something, try to change it. This new society (atleast in the US) of entitlement is absurd. If your university is spending n% of tuition fees for athletics, then start a movement to change that.

If you think college is run like an educational institute, you are poorly mistaken. It is a business. It appeals to its primary demographic. If its primary demographic was the person who despised sports and only wanted education, you'd see less college sports.

Change doesn't "just happen" - you gotta do somethign about it.

-- bearclaw
[ Parent ]
.. (none / 0) (#30)
by ameoba on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 11:30:57 AM EST

Going to a public college is more like paying vehicle registration taxes than buying a car. Everyone pays taxes that pay for roads, but you pay more of them if you own a new car, or drive a commercial vehicle. Colleges are payed for by everyone, tuition just puts a bit more of the burden on those who actually use them.

That being said, changing schools is hell. Going through the admissions proccess (again), packing, moving and unpacking are bad enough, but the real nightmare comes when you try transfering credits. Being forced to retake classes because course descriptions don't match, and finding out classes you took only becuase they were required not counting for anything, and having new, distasteful required classes, losing 6-mo to a year worth of accademic work, because term lengths don't match.

Yeah, it sucks that I'm paying $50/term to support sports teams, and that 20% of my facilities fee pays for athletic facilities. But it's not worth trying to find a better school (which is unlikely, if you're looking at public institutions), so you might as well lube yourself up before you head out the door.

[ Parent ]
Priorities Mangled... (4.75 / 4) (#20)
by Bloodwine on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:08:22 AM EST

I hear alot of "Football generates revenue for the college". Well, at some universities athletics do often help out the welfare of the university, but often it is just stupid town-pride. The sad fact is that our football program is god-awful (right now we have lost every game so far) and yet they still get a bigger stadium (to which the new President of the university stated that it will help draw more crowds). What the hell? About 1/3 of my college dues are athletic fees. I have to work harder to save tuition to support something that does not go towards education.

One year our basketball team made it into Finals and all of a sudden they give the Basketball Coach a new contract which pays him more than the President of the University (needless to say, the President and several other high-ranking officials left the university shortly thereafter).

Sports has its place, but colleges are educational institutions which are better off (IMO) focusing on classes, research, intern/work-study programs with companies/firms, etc.

I just wish there was a form that I can sign that states I promise to never go to any sporting events or use the gym complex and I could save several thousand per year.

In defense of athletics (4.00 / 7) (#24)
by claudius on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:03:00 PM EST

I feel compelled to come out of lurkdom to address some of the misconceptions brought up here by many whom, I am quite confident, have little knowledge of athletics or athletes aside from suffering through a year of high school P.E. and having had their feelings hurt by a "jock" at some point in their lives. I believe I am qualified to speak both as an athlete (I was a member of my University's track and field team, a Division 1-A program) and also as a "geek" (I have a PhD in theoretical physics and I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at one of the national laboratories in the United States). An atheletic scholarship helped pay my way through an otherwise too-expensive private school.

If someone were to classify software development as being merely glorified data entry, then people would be up in arms saying "No, you are SO ignorant. Our job entails much more...". Indignance and scorn would be heaped upon any fool who were to voice such an opinion. Similarly there is much more to being an athlete than just slapping on the cleats one day a week and spending the other six playing the two-backed beast with fawning cheerleader types. Like being a good mathematician, software engineer, or concert cellist, the root of athletic success lies beneath the surface.

For example, an athlete(*) must be very disciplined in order to train many months to achieve an ephemeral, personal goal. (Contrary to popular opinion, most atheletes do not compete for the dubious privilege of "going pro" since the odds are long against achieving this kind of success, and the lifestyles for all save the very top athletes are not endearing). In addition, an athlete must learn to function as a member of a team, to accept the leadership of coaches and captains, and to serve as a de facto coach or captain if the need arises. These skills overlap, in many ways, the operational experiences one might receive in the military, and they have recognized value in the workplace. The best leaders and the best team members didn't get that way by accident--they learned how to lead by leading and by fulfilling roles on teams; athletics provides such a venue. Finally, all successful athletes I know are highly self-critical and routinely evaluate their performances to find ways to improve themselves. They set goals and they set out to achieve these goals. This is key to fulfilling one's potential, and the experience doing so is perhaps the strongest argument for participation in athletics.

Cecil Rhodes, the benefactor of the Rhodes Scholarship, believed strongly that the best candidates for future leaders are those who have distinguished themselves both academically and on the playing field. I may, like many of you, feel that in high schools too strong an emphasis is placed on atheletics at the occasional expense of academics, however I cannot help but agree with Rhodes on the value of athletic participation in general.

(*)Where I refer to "an athlete" I generalize among the dozens of athletes I have known well.

Cecil Rhodes (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by inpHilltr8r on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 09:10:30 PM EST

As well as the Rhodes scolars, Cecil Rhodes also founded the British South Africa Company, the DeBeers diamond cartel, and the state of Rhodesia (what an ego). He's arguably responsible for the introduction of apartheid, mass slaughter, the enslavement of nations, and larceny on a grand scale. Rather unsurprisingly, he was also a white supremecist.

With this in mind, I'd take his opinions on team spirit with a pinch of salt.

[ Parent ]
Re: Rhodes Scholarships (none / 0) (#29)
by claudius on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 09:40:28 AM EST

If I had a pound for every white supremicist/egomaniac who has had statues in Britain raised in his honor, I'd probably double my salary. While I agree that Cecil Rhodes's record as a human being is less than stellar, one of the institutions that he founded, the Rhodes Scholarship, is not without merit. A convincing case can be made for the existence of a strong correlation among recipients of Rhodes Scholarships and among leaders at the highest levels of government and industry. Human rights issues aside, Rhodes's criteria, including athletic participation, do appear to select candidates with strong leadership capabilities.

I apologize that my mention of Rhodes has distracted readers from the central point of my post. I would have been better off using another example in its place, such as the strong correlation between participation in varsity athletics in college and selection as a NASA astronaut candidate.

[ Parent ]

Correlation is not causation. (none / 0) (#32)
by inpHilltr8r on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 05:45:45 PM EST

I wonder what the ratio between astronauts and engineers is at NASA.

[ Parent ]
compulsory education (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by chale on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:09:29 PM EST

the main problem contributing to education in America is the fact that unless you can afford and make the choice to go to a private school or homeschool, then you have to go to the school your local government mandates. a school with so many conflicting agendas that sometimes education is not even at the top of the list. compulsory education has a poor record and history in this country. to improve any public school takes a great amount of effort by a great number of people and the effort can be counterintuitive to the people who have been placed in charge of the system. note that i say system because the trend in education is to adopt and institute a program of education that suits the biases of the administrators. the best education is learning how to learn; that is knowing how to conduct research and analyze facts to reach conclusions. education can and has been in the past a simple matter. simply look at some of the better known people who were self educated or who were believed to be uneducatable. this discussion is focusing on the effects of and not the cause of bad education.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir
Serious Misinterpretations, Folks! (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by end0parasite on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:59:08 PM EST

I am not saying sports are bad or that they should be banned. I think sports are important for promoting America's health. This article was meant to point out the irony of the Rebel Booster Club. I do not believe in demoting sports, just promoting other mental activities more. I say this because sports are quite mental.

Sports and the various sciences should be equally important in everyone's mind, and this is not the way it is. In my school, at least, athletics are being put ahead of academics (sp?). I understand if you work hard to be a good athlete, but what if I work hard to be a good programmer or writer?

An example of our priorities is what happened today in study hall. I was reading the front page section of the paper. Another kid, upon seeing that I had the sports section underneath, snatched it and devoured the whole thing. Then he let another boy have it. I didn't bother to retrieve it; they thought it was the property of the library, so they put it back on the shelf.

OT (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by kjeldar on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 03:36:19 PM EST

Some idiot took your newspaper away from you, grabbing it out of your hands without asking, and you didn't do anything about it? Oh buddy, you need to be a little more confrontational.

What's the worst that could happen? You get in a fight? If you're under 18, who cares. Even if the guy kicks your ass, you still win respect for standing up for yourself. I avoided most of the HS torment that geeks often endure, because when I was a freshman in gym class, I had had enough of being picked on, and did something about it. A few cuts and contusions and a stern talking-to from principal, gym coach, and parents was a small price to pay in exchange for being left the fsck alone, and even respected by those who had previously bullied me.

Before you flame me for advocating violence, know that in modern American public high schools, especially small-town ones, the pecking order is nearly always based on who could kick whose ass. Anyone who's been through the system in the last ten, fifteen years will confirm that.

Posted with pride from Mozilla M18

[ Parent ]
I don't think I was detailed enough (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by end0parasite on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 10:45:12 PM EST

This guy who snatched it away was one of my best friends. My bad, my bad.

[ Parent ]
Messed Up Priorities | 36 comments (35 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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