If adults don’t value academics over sports, can we expect students to do so?

Are teacher raises a ploy to win support for the governor’s state takeover district? (AJC File)

A challenge in getting students to prioritize academic achievement is that many adults don’t — even adults who’d agree the main mission of schools is to produce kids who can think.

In truth, many people are more interested in schools producing teams that can win. Today yielded several examples.

On Facebook, people rushed to the defense of winning Mays High School football coach Corey Jarvis, who, according to an investigation by Atlanta Public Schools, cannot account for more than $10,000 in team funds, including more than $6,000 in football receipts recorded by Jarvis that were unable to be traced and more than $4,000 collected by him.

The AJC’s Molly Bloom also reported:

The investigation found that in one case, Jarvis told the Mays football booster club president, who had questioned how Jarvis handled football funds, “If you’re so unhappy, why don’t you take your kids and go somewhere else.” In another case, Jarvis appeared to challenge a school volunteer who had criticized him, walking up to him on the school’s campus and telling him “Next time I see you it’s not going to be on school grounds.” In both cases, school staff physically restrained Jarvis.

Commenters contend APS is being unfair to Jarvis, who they see as a modern-day Robin Hood. Among the defenses offered:

•”I still don’t see missing money. I see bad bookkeeping, which he admitted to.”

•”He probably helped pay some utility bills with it… what’s the average income of a Mays football player’s family?” 

•”I believe a football coach must be tough in his teaching. Ten grand missing? Much ado about nothing from what I see. A coach is a leader of young men, not an accountant.”

Then, I read a story in The New York Times that voters in McKinney, Texas, endorsed a nearly $63 million high school football stadium. Apparently, there is an arms race in Texas to build the bigger, better stadium.

The Dallas News reports:

 Besides football, they say the stadium would be used for soccer games and band competitions, and the events center for banquets and reunions. The stadium could also be a contender for playoff games and Drum Corps International competitions.

But McKinney Independent School District would compete for those events with neighboring districts. McKinney’s stadium site is roughly four miles north of Allen ISD’s mammoth $60 million stadium with 18,000 seats. Plano ISD opened Tom Kimbrough Stadium in 2004 with 9,800 seats. Frisco ISD is contributing $30 million for a new indoor stadium that includes a 57-foot-wide video screen and space to seat 12,000 at the Dallas Cowboys development.

Finally, Decatur High School spent a fruitless day trying to reschedule the state AAA championship boys soccer game with East Hall High slated for tomorrow at 2:30 in the afternoon in Macon — timing that will cause five seniors to miss a critical International Baccalaureate exam. Other players will miss an AP Stat exam, but there’s a makeup for that test.

The global IB program doesn’t offer makeups. If the students, who have been working toward their IB diplomas for two years, miss the 12:30  p.m. exam Thursday, they are out of luck. (They can graduate with a standard diploma that does not carry the prestige or reflect the added demands of the IB diploma, and, if they choose, come back from college and take the 2.5 hour test at the high school in May of 2017.) Decatur High’s IB coordinators are trying to win approval from IB to start the exam at noon so the soccer players can sit for about an hour of the test before they have to dash to catch the bus to Macon.

In a news story on AJC.com, Decatur Superintendent David Dude told AJC reporter Bill Banks, “It puts the kids in terrible position. You either take the entire test and miss your championship game, or you play and skip the test. Or you take the test in half the time normally allotted and barely make it to the game. They have prepared years for both of these events and being forced into such a decision by the inflexibility of GHSA and IB is unacceptable.”

My kids don’t play soccer, but I am puzzled why any high school championship game would be scheduled in Macon on a school day in the midst of the most intense testing week of the year.

How many working parents from Decatur or Hall can leave work in the middle of the day to drive to Macon? Would the Georgia High School Association schedule a state high school football or basketball championship final at 2:30 p.m. on a Thursday during the most critical testing period of the entire school year? (More and more high schools in Georgia are becoming IB schools, so I believe the intractability of IB testing has to be considered in the future.)

Some players have already told the AJC they would miss the test for the game, but why do they have to make that choice?

What’s wrong with the adults organizing these athletic contests that they don’t consider the testing schedules of high school students?

 

Reader Comments 0

83 comments
Michael2255
Michael2255

Paying $60 million for high school stadiums actually makes sense.  It's the government's alternative to serving up religion as the opiate of the masses.  The poor get crushed but who cares about the poor.  The lower middle class has nothing else to look forward to.  The upper and rich classes continue to send their kids off to real colleges and careers.  Game, set, match to the 20% percenters.  What's so hard to understand?  It's Living on Earth 101.

Starik
Starik

@Michael2255 For a cinematic portrayal watch "The Last Picture Show.." Great movie and directly on point.

Jeane Fuller Brawner
Jeane Fuller Brawner

Wow. At first I was thinking he probably used the funds for football related expenses. However, after reading the article, he seems to have an attitude that he's above reproach and does not have to give accountability to anyone. Too bad. Mays was on a course for great things

RamonMendoza
RamonMendoza

This is a problem at ALL levels of athletics, from the youngest Pop Warner players to the height of the NFL. When was the last time you saw rabid cheering and foam fingers at an academic bowl competition or debate?

mgunter
mgunter

Big waste of time and energy for kids, coaches and parents. Take em fishing/hunting/ hiking. Of course this is coming from an old guy who played4 sports in high school and baseball in college. All I got to show for it is 2 fake knees and a stiff neck every morning.

chrisnolden7
chrisnolden7

@DOrlandoAJC thank you for this perspective. I love sports but we should focus more on academics. Our country gets dumber ever year

eazily9
eazily9

@DOrlandoAJC Unfortunatley in most cases, academics ain't paying for their retirement.

Shirley
Shirley

@eazily9 @DOrlandoAJC sports will not be paying for their retirement. Less than 1% of college athletes (football, basketball, baseball) are every drafted, less than .5% of those actually have careers, and ever fewer have money when they retire. Education may not buy them the car of their dreams at 25, but if they give it their best, they will still have a car at 60, which is more than several  +$100million NBA players can say. It seems, no one taught them how to handle money. The more a basketball player makes, in the shortest time period -- the faster they lose it.   

AreUSerious
AreUSerious

Simple solution. Take athletics out of schools, period. Let the city and/or county rec programs be in charge. From a middle and high school principal of 21 years, athletics are the most disruptive and disproportionately expensive events that occur in schools today and are becoming even more so with social media and the insane hype that accompanies college recruiting. It is a business that interferes with the real purpose of schools, namely, teaching students the knowledge and skills necessary to be functionally literate in today's world. Ask any middle/high school teacher what week they dread the worst and is the least productive. The answer - homecoming!

OTP_Citizen
OTP_Citizen

Education IS and SHOULD BE the most important to our youth today.  Not social media, not their cell phones, and certainly not sports.  Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE sports fan, at all levels.  From youth sports, through High School, College and even the pros.  The thing most people forget is the 'STUDENT' part of student-athlete.  All kids should be focused on their education.  It is that which will provide the best life for them in the future.  And this state should do everything in its power to help ensure that happens.  After all, this is the future of this state.  If you don't educate our children today, they will be the not so bright adults in the future.  Cutting education budgets is wrong.  Using tax dollars to build stadiums, or in the case of Cobb putting sprint turf on their High School stadium fields, is also wrong.  We, the adults here, should be striving to get the best education for our kids as possible.  Certainly a winning team is a 'nice to have' but that won't get you a 6 figure job.  It will certainly get you a job asking 'would you like fries with that order'.

Starik
Starik

@OTP_Citizen People working at McDonalds used to have to make change correctly.  No more.

Zino
Zino

top athletes are coddled and babied from the time they are 7 years old through college----nothing will change---it's all about the money! pay up!

John Sukroo
John Sukroo

At least they are not building 65 million Stadiums like in Texas.

John Sukroo
John Sukroo

Roxy McPhail but this is school systems being screwed specifically with a bond issue. Lee did not give you a choice .

Roxy McPhail
Roxy McPhail

What do you suppose the figure on the New SunTrust stadium is?

Roxy McPhail
Roxy McPhail

No. And it has long been that sports receive more funding than academics.

Matthew Mitchell
Matthew Mitchell

I value balance and hard work. I have multiple advanced degrees and I have played sports at a very high/competitive level. I do not truly feel one is more important than the other...hard work, discipline and sacrifice can be taught in a classroom and on a ball field. For me, I value what athletics taught me far more than what I learned in calculus, chemistry or taking a forgiven language for two years to fulfill an academic requirement. For others it may be different. However I see far too much emphasis on academic achievement and testing that will never be used in the real life of adulthood. Most parents know their son or daughter will never play college or pro ball...they value teamwork, life skills, and exposure to various people, places and events. Sports helps teach people that some win, some lose and in fact some do not make the team. Often academics are found living in a fantasy world with guaranteed jobs and theories that just don't make the cut.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

Maybe it's because win-loss records are easier to understand than CCRPI or SLD results.  (Wait for the questions from people who don't know what either of these mean!)

Joshua Saye
Joshua Saye

A few things to ponder: 1. Our school's values are representative of the communities that they reside in. Go to a PTA meeting and then go to a Friday night football game. Can't place all the blame on the schools. 2. In my county, the district gives little to no funding for athletics other than coaches stipends (and they are very insignificant). The vast majority of funds for athletics comes from money raised by football. Personally, I'm not against athletics. Just like marching band, drama, robotics, and FFA, athletics is a necessary outlet for certain students. The problem arises when folks loose perspective about what the role of schools is and what role they play in making sure our youth are well educated and prepared for life. Moderation and reflection is key.

Amy Latimer Rice
Amy Latimer Rice

This article doesn't address the hiring decisions made by schools as well. I don't doubt that what a teacher can coach is often weighted more heavily than subject knowledge or teaching proficiency.

Kathryn Antman
Kathryn Antman

When I graduated 13 years ago with my masters in teaching all of my classmates in social studies got jobs that included coaching of one kind or another (cheer, drama, skateboarding, football)

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

Todd Holcomb, who writes the AJC's Prep Zone: High School Sports blog, shared some information with me about why more championship games are now likely to be moved to weekdays.

The GHSA actually does schedule one of its football state championship games during the day. They're all played at the Georgia Dome. In 2015, the first game was 1 p.m. Friday.  It's a two-day event. Next year, there will be eight state championships instead of six, so that almost guarantees a 10 a.m. game on a Friday this year. Football, golf, wrestling, swimming and track all hold state championships during the school day. Baseball will go to a neutral site next year and will join that group. And now cross country will have a Friday morning state meet next fall in order to accommodate the move to seven classifications.
Also, the state soccer finals moved to a neutral site with the blessing of soccer coaches, just the same as all these other sports. That's what most wanted. Once you go to a neutral site, you're probably going to have games during the school day, meaning kids out of class and difficulty for parents/fans to get off work to watch.
All that is still 'adults' making decisions, and it's up for debate about whether it's best for the student-athlete, but just want to clarify that it's not the GHSA office per se making these moves independently. It's what most soccer folks wanted, and then the GHSA's executive committee of 60 reps from around the state approved it. 

You can find his blog here: http://highschoolsports.blog.ajc.com/

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

Athletics are EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES meaning outside of the mandatory academic programs students choose to participate.  The jealousy that is shown towards athletics is often times misplaced. Folks don't have a problem with an academically strong student doing whatever he or she can to get scholarships to pay for their education. Most if not all do it very quietly. On the other hand athletes are doing the same except it's providing entertainment and school pride. Further they are doing TWICE the work - academics and athletics. NCAA D1 rules have changed requiring a minimum 2.3 Core GPA to participate as a college freshman. Therefore, any failed grade can tank the dream of playing in Division 1 as a freshman. Athletics can get out of hand it's up to the individual parents to keep their student in check. 


Fulton County Schools DO NOT provide funding to athletics. Teams have to fund raise and collect fees through the boosters to make ends meet. At a few schools the administrations ARE NOT supportive of athletics at all though the athletic programs are very successful. The academics of most school have remained stable in most cases as Fulton schools are some of the top schools in the state of Georgia. Showing academics and athletics can coexist. 


While APS is struggling with a $10k issue of a coach and his lack of fiduciary prowess. In Fulton there's a case where a school  collected more than $200k in gate receipts from football games over the last three years and don't have a thing to show for it. The gate receipts are collected by the administration and expended supposedly ONLY for athletics. An investigation would show the administration allegedly spent funds on academics and other budgeted cost centers within the building not related to athletics. From what I've been told by other administrators that's illegal according to Fulton's Student Activity Fund Manual. 


Those in the Fulton School District know exactly what I'm referencing. Time will tell if they get off their butts and investigate. If not maybe one of the local TV stations will.

AreUSerious
AreUSerious

Great job if they are taking gate receipts and spending on academics! Let's replicate this concept statewide!

sethandrews22
sethandrews22

Another of the systemic problems that more money won't fix, and yet we seldom hear solutions from the education establishment (left or right) that don't start and end with "Give us more!" 

Terry O'Brien Roth
Terry O'Brien Roth

Dealing with the GHSA is fruitless. They've already proven they don't care one whit about students. Anybody remember the state basketball championships?! So arrogant!

redweather
redweather

I am always reminded of how sports trump academics when I drive by Tucker High School. There is a big billboard out front of the school advertising all the businesses that support the school's sports teams. No such billboard for the businesses that support the school's academic programs. 

Niobe
Niobe

@redweather 

Area businesses are barred from contributing to your local school's academic programs.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

@redweather The sign is there because athletic programs don't have a problem trumpeting their supporters. The Principal at Tucker should put up signage showing the businesses that support the rest of the school. Don't blame athletics.

Starik
Starik

@redweather A few years ago Tucker was rebuilt. There was a very large expansion of the various athletic fields and the area where school buses load and unload - and which doubles as a practice area for cheerleaders and band.  A parking deck was built for teachers and staff.  Parking for students was reduced.  Demographics changed. Surprise!

Starik
Starik

@redweather @MajorDowning I'm assuming Coach Jackson is still the Principal.  When he took over the school changed quite a bit - for example, the graduation ceremony was moved to Bishop Long's megachurch in South DeKalb.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

The GHSAA needs to come under strict scrutiny over many issues, including their scheduling practices.


My small, poor system  is spending millions of dollars for the second time in less than 10 years to "upgrade" the football stadium's restrooms and visitor's side, as well as concessions, the entryway into the stadium, and a practice field for the band. Absolutely ridiculous!

Wendy D Lowe
Wendy D Lowe

There's also studies showing the comparison of kids performing better and finishing school because of athletics. There's valuable life learning in sports too. As for testing. It has gotten out of hand, around here all activities revolve around it which is ridiculous! Most of the time academic testing is scheduled without regard for athletics - and vice versa, it's usually just flat out a lack of communication on both sides, Calendars are packed and this can easily happen. As for the missing money that is clearly a PSC violation and there is no excuse for 'bad accounting'.

Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley
Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley

If testing is out of hand so is creating big schools so that you have a bigger pool of players to compete against each other. #IJS

Wendy D Lowe
Wendy D Lowe

I don't disagree - but it I don't really see how that's beneficial since it also puts them in a larger classification. We love our smaller schools in the mountains.