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The sporting, and learning life

With the start of the school year, issues concerning the education of young Pagosans and activities provided by the local school district come to the forefront.

Of particular interest this year is how well District 50 Jt. will deal with a crushing blow to the budget. The district cut most of the fat and a certain amount of muscle in response to a major dip in revenue and must be wary considering more cuts could be enacted next year by a state government in dire economic condition. Another cut similar to the last would be a severe blow and the effects would be devastating. Should the voters pass proposition 101 and proposed amendments 60 and 61 on Nov. 2, a knockout blow will be dealt to public education here, and elsewhere. It will be a sad day should Colorado voters decide a lower automobile registration fee is worth more than quality education for young Coloradans.

Another item that shows up on the radar this time of year is the kids’ sport phenomenon. We write here about it every year, making a call to parents and others to put the situation in perspective, but we fear the call is largely ignored. We make the call again, optimists to the end.

Kid sport at all levels is wide open for abuse of all kinds. Many adults put far too much emphasis on these activities, not understanding the limited scope of their value. They buy into the hollow platitudes about sport; they parrot them while, at the same time, they live through their children, anxious for the kids to reflect a sadly exaggerated glory onto them. We know this; we have done it. And we have learned.

The problem grows more ominous as young athletes make their way to organized school programs, in junior high and high school. There, what should be a fun and physically challenging indulgence for youngsters too often transforms into an emotionally brutal activity in which overly-avid parents and fans poison the well. And the poison makes its way into the other facets of the school experience, often affecting the academic environment in negative ways. As the emphasis turns increasingly to the playing field, it often turns away from the classroom.

Fortunately, the economic downturn at the district might kick open the door to reform; it has occasioned some moves that could ultimately lead to a lessening of parental madness and a reordering of priorities, taking attention back where it belongs — academics. The local district is starting to cut back on sport travel and its high expenses, and is beginning to assess fees related to sports. We hope overnight travel is restricted to a point it does not take place until season-ending state competition. We also hope that, in a few years time, current state school sport associations are undone and new regional associations absent state boundaries are created, thus allowing school athletes to travel within limited areas during a season and a postseason.

Further, we look forward to the time young athletes are not taken from the classroom in order to travel to sporting events. This occurs all too often now. A student should not miss a minute of class time in order to ride a bus to a distant town for a game. The classroom comes first.

If we ever fully come to our senses, we will take sport and other extracurriculars out of the schools and put them in a club format, as is done in Europe, leaving schools to do only one thing, and do it very well.

In the meantime, we need to realize sport is not a top priority in the school environment; it is a privilege, not a right.

The right, if one exists, is to an education, and as much revenue as possible should make its way to the classroom.

Karl Isberg