Comments about ‘Doug Robinson: Time to rethink investment in prep sports’

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Published: Monday, Aug. 4 2014 8:45 p.m. MDT

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Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT


I couldn't agree more. Most parents who don't have kids playing sports probably don't understand the amount of $$$ that parents spend - besides the coaches salaries. For football its' probably in the hundreds (if not thousands)of dollars every season. Then parents have the (almost)mandatory "football/basketball camps".

Then......we have the UHSSA who make the rules "allowing" students to transfer across town in order to form a "winning" state championship team.

The whole thing has degraded to the point where the whole high school athletic program is a bad joke!

John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

This is a shockingly left-wing article from Robinson. What has happened to the champion of athletics that we used to know?

True athletics is not about passing out participation medals to everyone. It is about rewarding the best for working hard to achieve excellence.

The left-wing egalitarian view has permeated too much of the public education system already. It has resulted in lowering the curriculum and the expectations to the level of the lowest common denominator so that all achieve the same result and none feel bad.

Our society cannot afford an entire generation of mediocrity. Robinson the runner should know as well as anyone the adage of Paul torun to win. That is why hhigh school athletics are so important. If these students are to become successful adults, they must learn how to run to win.

kaysville, UT

I've got to hand it to you Doug, for taking on a subject that could meet lots of resentment. However, that being said, I'm going to admit, that you have hit the nail right on the head. Team sports in high schools have gotten completely out of hand. Look at all the trouble the Utah High schools had last year with school allowing transfers, East High leading the pack with all the new kids they let in. UHSAA banned them, then backed off and let them back into the playoffs, other schools did the same thing. While I completely agree with you Doug, I wonder if we haven't dug too deep a hole to change anything for the good. I feel that it's only going to get worse. Way to speak up Doug, you've got my support.!!

Dietrich, ID

I don't think you can move to a new school to play ball, In Idaho anyway if you don't move with your parents than you have to sit out a year before you play sports.

Ricardo Carvalho
Provo, UT

Sorry Mr. Spring but I cannot agree. As a society, we have chosen to reward a relative few with a disproportionate amount of taxpayer money. I like the idea of seeing kids succeed but we need to do so in a greater variety of fields. Let the clubs pick up the tab as they do in Europe so that we can also reward excellence in science, the arts, public speaking, activism, and so forth.

By the way, I lettered for four years in high school and also served as a head coach at the college level.

Y Ask Y
Provo, UT

I have to agree with Doug on this one. As a high school and college athlete, I loved participating in sports. The key was participating. Being involved. We won a lot, but that wasn't central to the satisfaction and fulfillment. It was the teamwork, and discipline, and sportsmanship. It was the relationships, and learning hard work, and the excitement of putting yourself on the line.

If there is anything educational and instructive and valuable about high school athletics (and I think there is), it should be shared as broadly as possible, not restricted to a very few.

Colleges will still harvest the cream of the crop for their "amateur" athletics programs, but many more should be given the opportunity to benefit from organized competitive sports programs.

And maybe doing such a thing could improve overall health and fitness!

Light and Liberty
St. George/Washington, UT

He didn't challenge the importance of being the best at something. He was challenging the money that is spent on high school sports. Let's get real here. The average height of an NBA player is 6'6". Society, unfortunately, has spoken loud and clear about what it values and parents buy into it hook, line, and sinker! How about giving these kids a little reality check and direction by not stressing making a team to the point that everything outside of it is viewed as worthless. The NBA I am sure appreciates the money and emphasis, but a society that values putting a ball into a hoop more than becoming a doctor able to cure cancer has a problem! An intramural program that allowed all to compete would not hinder any kid from moving beyond high school, but certainly would give all kids a chance to have some fun. It is a game, pure and simple, despite those who think otherwise! If you don't think it is serious business, just watch a parent who has spent hundreds and thousands of dollars sending his kid to camps all of a sudden realizes his kid didn't make the team!

E Sam
Provo, UT

Absolutely! Shout it from the rooftops! And an intramural model would be good for the physical well-being for a lot more kids.


"Jeff" didn't play high school football in Utah. Utah high schools do not cut boys from the football team.

Southern, UT

The benefit of high school sports is learning how to discipline oneself to learn a particular skill. For most, the skills learned have no lasting value but the discipline learned in the process transfers to most areas of life. Those who wish to be successful in life need to learn how to sacrifice for a distant goal and maintain consistent effort, focus and discipline in order to reach that goal. High school sports teach these principles and success in high school sports generally relates to these factors. Motivation is provided by the desire to succeed and resistance is provided through competition. Intramural sports while fun, do not provide sufficient motivation or resistance to develop such habits. Smaller schools benefit disproportionately as most kids who want to participate have an opportunity in many sports. The problem is the larger schools where there are limited slots and too many students. A much better solution would be smaller neighborhood schools. The costs of building and infrastructure are higher but so are the benefits. Eliminating high school athletics does not solve the problem it only further limits those who can receive the benefits which research shows is significant.

Gunnison, Utah

Move to Europe and get your participation ribbon

Salt Lake City, UT

"Wouldn’t it be better if we put resources into programs that benefit the many, not the few? Wouldn’t an intramural program be vastly superior to the present system? "

Yes! Absolutely! I came up through the Salt Lake City school system. I attended Horace Mann Jr High (what a hole) and West High School. I took a P.E. class each of those six years. During that time I received exactly zero ZERO minutes of instruction in any particular sport. The gym teacher (coach at West) showed up, called the role, handed somebody a ball of some sort and disappeared. I really could have used some instruction in some sport. The present system is for the elite and everybody else can go hang. It's not right.

Oh, and the fact that I'm leftist shouldn't reflect negatively on my view.

Durham, NC

The converse story is also true. Perhaps some kids turn to drugs and gangs so that they have a "club" to belong to.... but at least in this area there are also a lot of kids who show up to school every day because of the promise that if they stay eligible, they can be on a sports team. As wrong minded, against the odds as it may seem, their are significant number of kids whose parents make sure they show up to school so that they can play a sport.... and if they work hard... and with some luck, will have a chance at a college education at some school.

If football, baseball, soccer, LaCrosse, you name the sport, is what it takes to keep little Johnny showing up to school everyday and makes sure he does well enough to be eligible, that is not a bad thing. Maybe it is just 100 football players, and another 12 basketball, and 20 baseball, and 30 soccer, and what ever wrestlers... add it up... and you have a good number of kids with an academic gun to their head to remain eligible. Intramural sports will not do that.

Durham, NC

BTW.... why is an intramural model and competitive sports mutually exclusive of each other? They do it in colleges, why can't it be done in high schools? I am not sure why we need to pick one over the other.

Just a thought...
Syracuse, UT

I believe that just as many people like "Jeff" who turn their experience into a pity party and use it as an excuse to fail in other area, there are people like "Michael Jordan" who use it as an excuse to work hard and develop into a better player, harder worker, and higher achiever.

Central, UT

Yep, way too much money goes into high school sports. An overhaul would be a good thing. The issue runs far deeper in the smaller communities than that in the cities (in my experience). Just look at the football 3A vs 3AA issue. Do really we need to divide the schools urban vs rural just so that Podunk High can win a championship again?

One issue that I wish Mr. Robinson had addressed was regarding the problems that can come from having much success as an athlete (esp. high school and the adolescent mind). The problems from that are just as severe as those stemming from failure.

I had my university degree paid for by an athletic department as are/have 2 of my 4 children. I say this not to brag but to shoot down the 'sour grapes' crowd.

Sandy, UT

GZE... Not sure you played sports in Utah.... YES they do cut kids from teams in Utah High Schools.

San Antonia, TX

We need more kids participating in sports of all kinds. We can't just focus on football, basketball, and baseball.

Thank goodness we now have Lacrosse and mountain biking coming on strong.

We need to get as many people involved as possible. When I grew up in Orem everyone played baseball, but now the whole sport has been hijacked by the super leagues and if you don't play 100 games a year then there is no room for you.

extreme specialization is hurting sports for everyone as those resources only become available for the fanatics.

Also, a Great coach is becoming very rare. There are way too many ego maniac coaches who don't care about the kids as much as their winning record and too often just their own kid.

Fanatical parents who have no sportsmanship are also the problem. Everyone needs to take a step back and let the kids play and learn to have fun again.

Salmon, ID

Big-time overreaction. High school sports has its warts and doesn't work for everybody, but to abandon it in favor of intramural sports is lame.

Centerville, UT

I know first hand that a lot majority of money that Doug talked about going into high school sports is paid by the participants and their families through direct donation or fund raising. I would say that men's football and basketball, for the most part, pay for themselves and help facilitate other sports programs as well. I think a better question would be to ask parents if they would be better off taking those tens of thousands of dollars spent on lessons, training, travel, tournaments, games, etc. chasing a scholarship and instead invest it for their kids college education. I'll have to admit that watching money grow in an account is not as exciting as watching a competitive athletic contest but . . . .

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