You no doubt were relieved by the news that negotiations with John Stockton over a new multimillion-dollar contract were completed Thursday.
Stockton will make as much as several of his millionaire buddies on the Jazz roster. The big-money contracts, of course, contribute to exorbitant ticket prices and the growing need to replace the Salt Palace with a larger, more expensive arena.With any luck, you and I will get to participate in the process by throwing in a few tax dollars to fund the arena. But, hey, we're talking the Jazz here.
Never mind that big-name professional basketball players make more in one night than many state elementary and secondary teachers make in a year. After all, second-grade teachers can't keep students' attention like Michael Jordan.
Despite that fact, students from a Centerville elementary school this week pleaded with state legislators for a larger school library and more books. The school's library, like many others across the state, is woefully inadequate.
Legislators welcomed the lobby effort but were left wondering where the money would come from to fund library improvements. Besides, they've got more important "educational" issues to think about.
As a result of sex-discrimination complaints recently filed against six northern Utah school districts, for example, the number of sports programs across the state is expected to grow. At issue is the alleged violation of Title 9 of the 1972 Education Amendments.
If a school is going to offer varsity soccer for the boys, it must do so for the girls as well. The boys have baseball, so the girls are demanding softball.
The Utah High School Activities Association last month officially sanctioned soccer and softball as varsity sports.
School libraries will just have to wait. After all, there are new coaches to hire, transportation costs to cover and sports equipment to buy.
A letter to the editor from an Orem reader is illustrative of the sorry state of our educational priorities.
"I think Utah schools are too poor," she writes. "I think Utah is losing a lot by not have any money to spend on our schools."
Few Utahns associated with public education would deny that our schools could use a few more bucks. The letter writer warns that "if there is not a good education in Utah, there may not be a future for Utah."
So what is her solution to improving educational quality? Increased funding for sports programs, of course.
"First, most high schools don't have good equipment or good sports programs, and junior highs don't either. Other states have swimming pools in their schools, along with football teams, gymnastics teams and the equipment to get proper training."
With the increasing emphasis our society places on sports, is it any wonder we're graduating students who have trouble filling out job applications? A recent study at a prestigious California university showed that three out of four varsity athletes never earned a degree and that football and basketball players earned lower grades than fellow students.
Little wonder so many young people get a second-class education. They're too busy flexing their muscles to give their brains any kind of a workout.
In a recent editorial cartoon, a firm's personnel director asked a college graduate where he went to school. The graduate replied: "To the one where the helmets are maroon and white and little gold lightning bolts are on the sides."
We spend so much time equating sports and money with success, we shouldn't be surprised by intellectually stunted high school and college graduates who think of little else. Neither should we be surprised by the steroids, recruiting violations, illegal payments to athletes and other examples of collegiate corruption.
In many cases, organized sports have superseded education. And for many students, the distinction between the two is no longer clear.