Friday, April 1, 2011

Too Much, Too Little.....Is It Too Late????

Josh Pastner
Head Coach
University of Memphis Tigers

This devilishly handsome young man is the Head Coach of the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team.  He was hired in the summer of 2009 after John Calipari suddenly resigned and took a job with Kentucky.  Cal, as he was affectionately known, left a bad taste in the mouth of Tiger fans not only because he left, but because of the way he left and the things he said as and after he left.

When Josh Pastner was hired, he was young (31) and a virtual unknown to fans.  He however has shown himself to be more than adequately qualified for the position.  In two seasons, he has brought the team back to the NCAA playoffs and has won more games in his first two seasons than any head coach in the NCAA.  His recruiting accomplishments are perhaps some of his greatest successes.  Fans love him, players love him and women REALLY love him.  Unfortunately for the women, Pastner is a happily married man with morals; a dichotomy in and of itself these days.

I like Josh Pastner.  I know absolutely nothing about basketball nor college sports, but I like what I see of him on the news reports.  He seems to be honest, humble and dedicated to doing what is right.  He has a reputation for being passionate about his sport, but also as being a 'nice guy' even where his team is concerned both on and off the court.  No expletives flying through the air, no name calling or ranting and raving at players, peers, refs or fans.  A real nice guy.  Who knew they even existed any more?  A very rare find indeed.

After taking his team to the playoffs after just two seasons with them, and rumors flying of other teams desire to steal him from the U of M, folks in Memphis decided they must plug the leak before it sprung.  In interest of so doing, they offered Pastner a contract extension for an annual salary of 1.7 million dollars through the 2015-2016 season.  Pastner has said before he had no plans of leaving U of M.  However, his Momma didn't raise no fools and when the deal was offered, he signed.  Smart move for Pastner and quite possibly for U of M as well.

So, what exactly is it that makes the whole thing so unpalatable to me?  Just this, what man at age 33 who coaches a college sports team is in reality WORTH 1.7 million dollars a year?  As I've said, I like Pastner; I even admire him.  I think he's a great example to his players, his peers and his fans.  Think about it for just a minute though.  This is one man on one team the school supports.  There are multiple supporting coaches, other teams with head coaches and supporting coaches, as well as whatever else comes with supporting sports in college.

How can a school justify such an expenditure when kids are foregoing higher education at the college and/or university level due to the affordability of said education?  What are the salaries of tenured professors in lesser fields such as say, molecular biology or quantum physics?  What are the salaries of professors helping to educate the future teachers, scientists, physicians and law enforcement personnel in our country?  If they are commensurate with the sports salaries, the school's salary expenditures alone must be astronomical!  No wonder scarce few can afford a degree anymore!

How many of these athletes go on to careers with earning potentials that are even vaguely commensurate with the cost of their education?  Keep in mind, you must not only consider the costs of their scholarships, but the costs of their coaches, equipment, etc.  How many athletes are even considered an average in any graduating class?  Does anyone even keep up with these facts?  Does anyone know the real cost of the athletic programs in these schools?  I dare say, they do not.

In my opinion, it is but another indication of how skewed the thinking of this society has become.  Our heroes are Hollywood types who have no idea what the real world is like and sports players who have no idea what the average man has paid for his/her quite expensive opportunity to party hearty and live immoral lives.  I know these are quite general statements and do not apply to every college athlete.  I am convinced, however, that it is more the norm than the exception.

We're forcing our grade school and high school students to push farther, work harder to learn the necessary math and science skills to be competitive in their future endeavors.  We've even gone to year-round school classes in some districts in hopes of accomplishing this.  Then, we send these wonderfully intelligent and highly educated young people off to college (if we can afford it) and what happens with all that hard earned knowledge?  Are we over-educating the younger children only to feed them to the wolves of the sports-generated dollars flooding into our institutions of higher learning?

What if our very intelligent child isn't sports oriented?  What if they enjoy books and poetry?  What if science is their forte, or perhaps they're a whiz at math?  Where are the huge scholarships for those children?  I know scholarships exist in almost any and every field of interest; but are they on equal footing witht he athlete?  I think not.

There's nothing wrong with athletics and I highly admire someone with athletic abilities.  I myself once enjoyed running very much.  However, those big scholarships were none-existant to runners in my day.  If, however, you were great at basketball, football or even baseball, numerous colleges were knocking at your door with offers.

I have a friend who was highly intelligent and loved reading and science.  She wanted to become a doctor and practice in an underserved community.  She did so, but at massive expense to herself.  Her student loans will take years to pay off.  Granted she was forgiven for a good portion of her loans for serving in an indigent area and she got many scholarships, however the amount of loans she was left to pay off were astronomical.

In the area where she practices, she can barely afford to pay her meager staff and keep her clinic operating at current Medicare reimbursement rates.   She lives a very frugal lifestyle and totally dedicated to her work.  She is immensely happy doing what she does, where she does it.  However, she has bills to pay like everyone else.  Her clinic is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until the last person is seen at night.  A few of those sports-generated dollars spent on her education would have certainly made her life easier and I dare say there are multiple thousands in very similar situations.

What a shame that a society places greater value on playing a game than on saving a life, teaching a child or training an individual who may one day be your local sheriff or police chief.

God help us to see the foolishness of our ways and thoughts, to renew our minds to align with Your ways and Your thoughts.

6 Seek the Lord while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
7 Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55: 6-9  (NLT)


1 comment:

Becky said...

that's just crazy!