Are athletics being deprioritized in our schools?
by Justin McGill, General Manager -- jmcgill@cadizrecord.com
Jun 27, 2012 | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Through the first 18 years of my life, I participated in a number of organized extra-curricular activities in this community.

From my pre-school years until about middle school, I spent the majority of my summers at the Trigg County Recreation Complex. I was fortunate enough to play on teams coached by Vic Mitchell (for whom a field is named at the Complex) and my dad. This was during a time when it seemed like there was always something happening at the Complex – very similar to what folks are experiencing there now, thanks to the hard work of many people in our community.

My basketball career began in little league during elementary school and ended during my sophomore year of high school. Again, I was fortunate enough to be coached at different times by the likes of Gary Siegmund, George Radford and Mike Wright. There’s a fair chance that at some point, I even received some guidance from Jim Wallace, as many basketball hopefuls in this community did.

The activity that perhaps left me more fulfilled was band, which I started in sixth grade and ended with my graduation. I was led by longtime director Alan Baker and several other great music leaders here, including Mark Harris, Rusty Carter, Ronne Cornelius and others. I was fortunate enough to participate in high school marching band for five years, including a trip to the state finals as a junior.

And if I hadn’t had those opportunities, I might have been so miserable that making it all the way through school would have been a stretch.

Today, youth leagues at the Complex are thriving under the direction of the Trigg County Youth Athletic Association. The band program is doing well under the direction of Andrew Mroch. Many other viable extra-curricular activites are also available.

And our school district is currently looking for a new athletics director. If that sounds familiar, it’s because we’re only a year removed from Jim Perrin’s resignation, and two successors have come and gone.

I’ve written before concerning my belief that this community doesn’t understand how lucky it was to have Perrin here for as long as he was here. That sentiment is based largely on the fact that the athletics director position is not full-time, but he treated it like it was. Considering the workload involved, it absolutely should be. I won’t try to fake knowledge of our school district’s budget, but the fact that the position is part-time leads me very quickly to one conclusion – currently, there is not a lot of priority placed on athletics.

I’ll never advocate prioritizing athletics to the detriment of academics, but history tells us that we can have both while graduating kids at a high education level.

Students who are willing to make sacrifices so they can compete in athletics deserve the chance to prepare in a way that allows them to be competitive at a higher level. Some – not all – of our teams are struggling because, in my opinion, they are being de-prioritized somewhere along the way.

Other sports – in fact, almost all of them – share in another problem: Parents who refuse to let the coaches do their jobs without constant deconstructive criticism.

In short, we’ve got some folks who think our kids should never lose a game, while others think we’re playing too many. And those of us in the middle just want to see these kids get what they want – a chance to play and be competitive.

Is that asking too much?

Justin McGill is the general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at jmcgill@cadizrecord.com.
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