Leave #036;ports alone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2003

One of the stupidest quotes to have come out of the sports universe is "It's not about the money."

Whatever. At least Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character in "Jerry Maguire" had it right when he screamed "Show me the money."

Unfortunately, money is no longer just a big issue in professional sports. Money has become an issue for high school student-athletes because without funding the athletic programs would have to be eliminated.

Some people in Alabama have begun voicing an opinion in support of cutting high school sports due to the budget crisis the state faces.

Teachers and support staff personnel have lost their jobs in recent months throughout the state due to a lack of funding for education. It is a sad reality that state officials have not properly planned to provide funding for the education system.

The lack of planning by state officials, however, should not take sports or other extracurricular activities away from the students.

Sports programs - whether it is high school football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball or even cheerleading - should not be cut.

I agree a source of funding is needed for the education of the state's students. Yes, education should be the first priority. Yes, it saddens me when I hear about educators losing their jobs due to a lack of funding. But, sports should not be sacrificed.

First of all, the athletic programs do not receive very much state funding in the first place. Also, sports generate revenue. High school football brings in money, usually enough to help fund other sports.

Booster club provide the additional funding needed to support the athletic programs at almost every high school in the state. Sports programs are not draining all of the money out of the state's education budget.

Eliminating sports is not the answer. Sports are a part of the high school experience. Being a part of the team generates memories while also teaching valuable lessons.

If education needs funding, maybe the state should develop the Alabama Academic Booster Club. The state could kick off the new club by requiring each resident of the state to pay a $1 tax as part of their state income tax.

Is that fair? Yes.

Every resident may not have a student attending a public school, but a top-notch education system will benefit the entire state including those without children.

The funds generated could be distributed to each school or school system based on enrollment. For example, if $1 million were generated by the tax and there are 500,000 students enrolled in the public school system, then each school would receive $2 per student to fund educational programs.

Whatever happens, the state should not eliminate high school athletics. They are too valuable because they teach lessons like leadership, sportsmanship and dedication.

Well, that's my two cents worth.

John Wallace is the sports editor of, and columnist for, The Andalusia Star-News.