I LOVE sports. LOVE 'em. From little league to middle and high school, college and professional...it doesn't matter. I enjoy the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as much as anyone. I still get chillbumps when I ride by our county's high school football stadium on a Friday night. I can smell the grass on the field, the popcorn at the concession stand, and the sweaty players running to the locker room at the end of the game. I hear the band playing Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" and can still remember the dance I used to do on the sidelines. I have season tickets to NFL football games and Triple A baseball...so famous in my town that a movie, Bull Durham, was filmed here.
I also love the Division I university that I attended. My daughter graduated from there 24 years after I did, and coincidentally, that was the same year I earned my master's degree there. She was a captain on the cheerleading squad and traveled the country when "our" team played in the NCAA tournament. To say I'm a fan is an understatement. In my area of the state the basketball rivalry is so intense that it can break up a marriage and everyone would understand.
I love my profession, too. This week my heart broke when I read about the local teacher who is half a paycheck away from homelessness and who is in danger of losing her job. Just as I was wiping away my tears, I read the following:
"With 11% unemployment in NC that includes 5400 educator jobs, the Senate's budget continues $14 million funding of our-of-state athletes' tuition. Out-of-state athletes cost upwards of $42,000 annually, mostly at taxpayer's expense. A starting teacher in NC makes $30,000 annually."
Did you just hear a needle scratch violently across a record (you have to be my age to understand that reference.) Seriously? Seriously? I can barely summon a response.
My husband says, "Yea, but how much do those athletes bring to our state?" And to that I say, "Not a damn thing if they hadn't had thirteen years of teachers and coaches training them to do what they do and be who they are."
I'm so mad I don't even have words...