I stand second to none in support of high school sports. The lessons girls and boys learn of sportsmanship, fair play, teamwork, leadership and loyalty while playing sports are immeasurable. The enjoyment sports provides for parents, classmates and friends in fostering school spirit is all part of the positive venue that is school athletics. Taxes are, for the most part, willingly paid to support these worthy endeavors.
A few years ago, I railed against the football palace being built at the University of Oregon by alumnus Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. He spent $68 million to build an ostentatious monument in his name to house and feed football players, most of whom come from California. It was private funding and it is his right to spend it as he sees fit. The message it sends to all college life there and elsewhere, however, is misleading at the very least. To his credit, Knight is an equal opportunity funder, having donated hundreds of millions to his graduate school alma mater, Stanford University.
And then there’s Texas.
A referendum was recently passed, 64% in favor, to erect a $62 million high school football stadium in McKinney, Texas.
Not to be outdone, the city of Allen, Texas, is building a high school stadium costing $62.5 million.
Sidebar of interest… in 1939, Massillon High School in Ohio was the best football program in the country, coached by future great Paul Brown who went on to coach Ohio State and the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. Paul Brown’s first pro quarterback was future NFL Hall of Famer Otto Graham.
Sidebar of perhaps lesser interest….. Otto Graham’s father was Jack Benny’s violin teacher. I’ve been looking to use that nugget of trivia for over a year now. Voila!
The good folks of Massillon that year built a new stadium costing $246,000. Unheard of at that time. It had then, and still does, regular grass. $246,000 in 1939 equates to $4.2 million in 2016 adjusted dollars.
Each of those two new high school fields in McKinney and Allen is costing taxpayers 254 times what it cost Massillon to build a football field in 1939. If cigarettes had made the same arithmetic progress over the past 75 years, a pack of Lucky Strikes today would cost $50. It doesn’t. Then again, maybe it should.
Wait, there’s more.
Frisco High School will be playing home games in a $255 million stadium complex while sharing practice facilities with the Dallas Cowboys.
All three Astro-turfed high school stadiums are within seven miles of each other, thirty miles north of Dallas, where the mother lode of nonsensical over-priced football fields can be found at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
View the absurd spending of hundreds of millions of dollars building palatial football palaces against such funds being better spent educating our young people in math, science and the arts and one begins to see how far away from reality school sports has truly become.