To our readers:
Thank you for bringing back civility.
Thank you for showing that a discussion can take place without name-calling, put-downs, or my-way-or-no-way.
We won't make for good politicians, but we have a shot at being good people!
Last week, we published a story regarding economics and high school football. The response has been overwhelming. Almost 30 comments left online. I received more than a dozen emails. Editors have received emails and phone calls.
Here is the best part: I could only find one person who went on the attack toward me for writing the article. Everybody else had ideas to fix the problems associated with the subject, or brought up other points that were not in the article, suggestions to take a deeper look, with other details. Real, honest criticism that actually furthered the discussion.
Here are a few, with more comment from me.
Paula pointed out it is not just football. Other sports have issues with economics.
No doubt. We chose football specifically because it is the most difficult of high school team sports to turn around, based on the number of athletes involved. That does not take away from the fact that some of the economically challenged areas struggle in other sports, too.
Christopher and Korey wondered about the impact of students leaving their "home" schools for other schools in a district. Maybe have stricter transfer rules. Eric wrote about the differences in experiences he and his brother had as athletes, one at Skyview, the other at Hudson's Bay. Mark noted that athletes coming from broken homes has to have an impact.
So many issues, all valid points. To be clear, we did not publish this as some sort of be-all, end-all answer. In fact, if you liken the subject of economics and football to a tree, then perhaps the number of students on free or reduced lunch is just one big branch on that tree. So many of you came up with other branches of discussion.
Doug brought up a broader point regarding academics and poverty, going as far to say that if it takes bad football to wake people up, guess that is OK.
Richard D. sent me an email requesting more information, more numbers. What is the cost of personal training in the offseason, the private instruction? The camps? The clinics?
One, it varies. Two, we were not sure we wanted to bog down the readers with numbers overload. Still, great questions. For some, this was an in-depth article. For others, it was not deep enough.
There were many more, and, again, thank you.
There was one guy, Steve, who was really disappointed in the article. His seemed "angry" but it is difficult to determine tone in an email. Even though he got a little personal, I think Steve's point was that he did not want Camas' success on the football field to be diminished, as if the Papermakers are only good because they are a "rich" school.
The Papermakers have earned their victories on the football field through hard work, sacrifice, commitment on and off the field. Doesn't matter how much or how little money one has, athletes must work for a team to achieve the level of success that Camas has reached.
Now in my 13th season of covering high school football for The Columbian, that has been true of Mountain View, Columbia River, Evergreen, La Center, Skyview, Union, and Camas -- all programs that have reached the final four since 2001.
Thank you again for your feedback, and more importantly, for the way most of you gave your feedback.
It is appreciated.