Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
February 3, 2010

I got a call the other day from the head football coach at one of the larger state universities.

He said, after the usual greetings, “I’ve got some real problems.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“The players I am getting now are out of shape, they don't know how to block or tackle, they can’t read the playbook and they can’t follow their assignments.”

“That does sound bad. What is your record this season?”

“The teams we play seem to have similar problems, so all our games are pretty sad affairs, ending in scoreless ties.”

“Also,” he told me, “During breaks in practice, most of them are text-messaging their friends, and almost half of them just drop out of college after a year or two !”

“Have you talked to any of the high school coaches who send you players?”

“No, I don’t know them.”

“Have you visited any of the high school games or practices?”

“No, I really don’t have time for that sort of thing.”

“Well, have you heard there is a big new push for Common National Athletic Standards?”

“No, but do you think that will help solve my problems? Are they really specific this time, for a change?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “They want to require high school students, before they graduate, to be able to do five sit-ups, five pushups, and to run 100 yards without stopping. They also recommend that students spend at least an hour a week playing catch with a ball!”

“That is a start, I guess, but I don’t think it will help me much with my problem. My U.S. players have just not been prepared at all for college football. I have a couple of immigrant kids, from Asia and Eastern Europe, who are in good shape, have been well coached at the secondary level, and they have a degree of motivation to learn and determination to do their best that puts too many of our local kids to shame.”

“Well,” I said, “what do you think of the idea of getting to know some of the coaches at the high schools which are sending you players, and letting them know the problems that you are having?”

“I could do that, I guess, but I don’t know any of them, and we never meet, and I am really too busy at my level, when it comes down to it, to make that effort.”

[If we were talking about college history professors, this would not be fiction. They do complain about the basic knowledge of their students, and their inability to read books and write term papers. But like their fictional coaching counterpart, they never talk to high school history teachers (they don’t know any), they never visit their classrooms, and they satisfy themselves with criticizing the students they get from the admissions office. Their interest in National Common Academic Standards does not extend to their suggesting that high school students should read complete nonfiction books and write a serious research paper every year. In short, they, like the fictional head coach, don’t really care enough to find out why students are so poorly prepared for college that half of them drop out, and that most of them do not arrive on campus prepared to do college work. They are really too busy, you see...]

No comments:

Post a Comment