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It's not all about the gridiron

August 05, 2004

I disagree with Roger Carlson's conclusions in Sunday's Pilot that

the Newport-Mesa Unified School District needs to appreciate the

"values of athletics, which is at the heart of the morale on any

campus" ["Chaos(ta) Mesa requires real house cleaning"]. My children

attended Costa Mesa High School for nine years total and participated

in many sports programs at the junior high, junior varsity and

varsity level. They also participated in choir, drama, band, academic

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decathlon, newspaper, mock trial, student government, service clubs,

Advocates for Student Rights, Youth in Government and other

activities.

We do a disservice to students to make them believe their ticket

to college or the future is through athletics. Their status after

graduation will not depend on being on the high school football team.

Most will never play football again once they graduate. High schools

need to tell students the truth and work at promoting the scholarship

and activities that are most important to most students' futures.

Some Costa Mesa High School graduates from the Class of 2000 just

obtained their degrees from colleges such as Stanford, Yale, Brown,

UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, University of Redlands, Marymount

Manhattan and more. None were football or basketball players. Most

were in choir. Most obtained financial help from the college because

of their artistic talents, not their athletic talents. The common

denominator for students who were accepted to the best colleges from

Costa Mesa High School's Class of 2003 was choir, academic decathlon,

mock trial and good grades.

I like high school athletics. But schools should remember that

there are more than three sports and divide resources accordingly.

Taxpayers get a lot more bang for their buck from the tennis and golf

program than the football program. Taxpayers get even more bang for

their buck from arts programs, which are always underfunded.

As taxpayers, we all own the schools and the city parks and

buildings. If high schools stop sharing the fields, does that mean

school pools, theaters and classrooms are off-limits to all but those

led by that coach or teacher? Would we deny small children swim

lessons so they won't drown, just so water polo players can practice

at their convenience? I say, work out the kinks of the joint-use

agreement. Then, start paying all teachers who put in extra time for

their efforts to help students.

* GAY GEISER SANDOVAL is a former Daily Pilot columnist and a

resident of Costa Mesa.

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