Give education a sporting chance

Call me curmudgeonly if you will, but say a few words of thanks to whatever teacher taught you what that word means or instilled in you the spirit to look it up.

It’s no surprise for a person who makes his living as a college professor to come out four-square in favor of education. But as we all gear up for the start of another school sports season, let’s try to remember that what really counts is what happens in the classroom, not on the playing field.

The pinnacle of my own athletic prowess having occurred as a member of the “funny team” of scrubs who started freshman basketball games to lull opponents into complacency makes such thoughts perhaps unsurprising.

Still, I am a huge sports fan, paying big bucks to watch every Packers game on TV and bemoaning why Kansas can’t seem to pass a bit of its success with basketball into its football program.

I love sports, even local sports, having served as the original game announcer and videographer for Marion football and basketball back before there was a cable channel to carry the games. I started in journalism by writing sports stories and taking sports photos, and I’ve never relinquished those roots.

Still, I cringe when I hear local school boards starting their new year by making priorities out of improving sports facilities and talk much less about academics. It sticks in my craw, like a needless football turnover, that a few weeks ago Marion schools were considering buying new volleyball uniforms with a windfall of state aid that had been ordered to ensure that all students get a great education even if their district isn’t wealthy.

In the next few weeks, we’ll all be caught up expecting great achievements by the teams we root for. I even think KU might win a game or two in football.

But let’s not forget that it’s not the excellent game plans of Warriors coach Grant Thierolf that will get our young people to perform at the next level. It’s his excellent lesson plans. Much as we value skills in coaching for the gridiron, it’s skills at coaching for the game of life that really matter.

— ERIC MEYER

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