By Frank Williford
Injustice in public school athletics remains the single most disparate element of a public education. Let me explain why.
Public schools have spent millions of dollars on magnificent modern structures from classrooms to gymnasiums to athletic fields. Administrators have enjoyed significant pay increases often related to athletic performance as well as academic innovation. Curriculums have been centralized on trendy accomplishments and work assignments have been reduced to avoid the tedium associated with rigorous learning. The digital age has negated the need to comprehend or read cursive. This leap forward presents the student with an opportunity to learn from the thought process of someone else and thus eliminate the hard work of analyzing and studying original material. This has resulted in happier, well-adjusted students who are better able to rise above any socially unjust station in life.
But alas…..school athletic programs have not kept pace with modern thinking. Many students are still being stigmatized because they do not have the natural athletic ability of others. They are not allowed to participate on winning teams or engage in intermural activities at the same level as certain other unfairly gifted students. This is not right in our enlightened age. Schools are supposed to produce happy, stress free individuals who will enter the higher education domain (should they so choose) with a positive outlook and no negative pressures imposed upon them. Athletics has lagged badly in this regard but there is a simple solution.
Just as much has been accomplished with adjustments to academic curriculum standards, so can athletic standards be adjusted to produce more individuals with improved athletic records. This is only fair. This adjustment to athletic goals does not have to happen all at once. Some of the adjustments can be made quickly, without much effort, and striking results can be noted almost immediately.
Football fields should be shortened and the goal posts moved closer together. It should only be necessary to advance the ball five yards before a first down is achieved and the team with the ball should have six tries to do so. Every player desiring to be on the team must be allowed to play an equal amount of time. Penalties should be retained but any reference to the person committing the infraction or the seriousness of the infraction should be eliminated since it demonstrates bias toward an individual.
In Track and Field the quarter mile and one mile runs should be converted to the metric system making them the quarter kilometer and one kilometer runs. Under this adjustment a significantly greater number of students will be able to achieve the Four Minute Kilometer, a worthy goal that has stood the test of time.
The high jump bar should be lowered by fifty percent allowing many more athletes to achieve notable results by clearing the bar.
The forty yard dash should be reset at twenty yards and time comparisons made against the old standard as proof of renewed athletic accomplishment by more and more students.
Baseball should have the distance between bases reduced to 45 feet and five strikes should make the batter out and two balls passed should give rise to a walk. If desired results are not achieved then the pitchers’ mound can be moved back closer to second base. If still more adjustment is proved to be necessary then the mound should be flattened to grade level.
These are just a few of the adjustments that can be made to public school athletic programs to make the programs more in line with adjustments already made and being even now made to academic programs. The results will be more students with a sense of pride and accomplishment.