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Chill, people. It’s just a game

Submitted by on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 One Comment

footballOfficials in a Central California town had a great opportunity to teach near-adults a tremendous value lesson last week. Too bad they picked the wrong curriculum.

The event was the football game between cross-town rivals, Turlock and Pitman high schools. The matchup the previous year had been marked by a few scuffles, but nothing that required a riot squad.

Oh, and there were some banners people didn’t like, such as the snide comment from Turlock fans about a Pitman teacher who went to jail after having sex with a student. “We (heart) our teachers … but not like that,” it read, according to a local newspaper.

So this year came the big crack-down. Forget helicopter parents. Here’s an entire helicopter school district.

Fans supporting different schools would have to enter on opposite sides of the stadium. Children younger than high school age would have to be accompanied by an adult – which is funny, considering that many of them could have seen nine of the 12 movies showing in the local theater that weekend without an escort. School officials would have to approve all banners before the game.

What a relief to know that there’s nothing important going on in our schools that would prevent principals from devoting time to censoring posters.

To their credit, school officials did at least involve student leaders in the walkup to the crackdown, and the students responded by calling on classmates to focus on school spirit rather than on trashing the opponent.

Too bad that most of what the superintendent called a “pro-active” rather than reactive approach revolved around herding people into submission instead of appealing to their better natures. These teens are on the cusp of adulthood. They’ll soon have a say in running the country. But they can’t be trusted to make a poster?

The greatest irony is that a Turlock assistant principal said most of the previous year’s problems came from adults at the game, not students. Seems like the solution, then, would be ridding the stadium of trouble-makers on the spot rather than editing posters and threatening students with expulsions if they step out of line.

And instead of throwing around threats, officials could have explained to the students that it’s just a game. A game that, granted, might seem like the center of the universe at the moment but really won’t matter in the least four years down the road. How many people, unless they were on the team, can even remember who won the big rivalry football game back when they were in high school?

They could have told students that if someone taunts you, you ignore it. There are always going to be people in life who do that, and when you respond, they win. Oh, and don’t be so thin-skinned. Taking a jab against a criminal teacher is not an insult to you just because the teacher happened to be from your school.

For a group of professional educators, Turlock officials sure missed a great chance to educate. But, then, it’s always easier to crack down than to teach.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leslie K. said:

    Hi, Deb…I tried to email but it bounced back. Chase is not doing well. His cancer has spread to just about everywhere in his body. He cannot produce his own blood or platelets. The bones in his little face are all broken. He keeps fighting for life, but at this point we are praying for God to relieve him of his pain and for mercy. His family got to take one last trip together to Disneyworld thanks to all the publicity and you were a big part of that…thank you. My heart is broken.