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Editorial: Can we do better for high school sports?

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Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 12:00 am

Can we do better by our local high school athletes and their coaches? It seems possible, and is worth a discussion.

As reflected in last week’s in-depth story by sportswriter Mark Godi, sports programs in Lodi Unified School District high schools have been aggressively cut. For instance, transportation funds have been all but eliminated, meaning team members and coaches must chip in for bus and van travel.

And seven coaching stipends have been cut, too.

The cuts may have made sense during the recession, when state funding dropped drastically. But state monies have begun to surge again, substantially. While employee pay levels have been largely restored, the cuts to sports activities have not.

Other districts have resisted slicing sports programs, and those that did have revisited replenishing them.

Perhaps it is time for Lodi Unified to at least re-examine the possibility.

The transportation cuts, especially, are worrisome. Some coaches are thrust into the difficult role of being the travel marshal, making sure everyone has a ride with a driver who has adequate insurance. Talk about herding cats.

We can’t help but feel that is asking a lot of our coaches, especially those who had their stipends reduced — or may now be serving as volunteers.

It’s our take that high school coaches, bless them, do what they do because they love it. Their stipends have always been modest, representing some of the best bang-for-the-buck value in public education.

Our local high schools should be judged first on their academic achievement. But their traditional role extends to providing individual enrichment and opportunity.

Sports are a part of that. For some students, a big part.

Isn’t restoring those cuts to athletic programs worth a fresh look and a respectful discussion?

We hope Lodi Unified’s administration and trustees will place this item on an agenda soon.

A spirit of service

Speaking of enrichment opportunities, how about those students from the Lodi Academy helping with the clean-up of a campus shaken by the Napa quake?

About 32 academy students were set to travel to the Napa Christian Campus of Education to help out after the powerful temblor that rolled through last Sunday.

They planned to put stack books, re-arrange desks and place file cabinets upright once again.

Sounds like some hard work mixed with the satisfaction of helping others.

That’s all in keeping with Lodi Academy’s school motto — “The School That Trains For Service.”

A noble — and refreshing — concept.

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