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It’s got to be some kind of metaphor for something

The football stadium in Allen, Texas is a useful example for the dilemma of the rational world, and I’ve used it a few times in talks. It’s a beautiful stadium, built for a public high school, that cost $60 million. That’s stunning, that a school district in America can be so rich that they can raise that much money…and then they spend it on something as superficial as football. But here’s the rub for liberal America: there was nothing illegal in what the community of Allen did, and they raised the money in a democratic referendum, and a majority of the residents wanted this obscene temple to sports. Of course, at the same time, because we have an awful patchwork system of school funding, other districts 10 miles away from Allen are struggling on shoestring budgets and failing to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind act, so there is an injustice being done here — but we always hesitate to take action in these cases. I’d also rather see the people of Allen grow up and be inspired by learning to do better for their kids, than that someone come along and slap the football out of their hands and yell at them for being stupid.

Anyway, your schadenfreude for the day: the Allen High School stadium is closed. It’s already falling apart and has developed dangerous cracks.

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    I hope the minority of the residents who voted against the stadium prevail in not having their taxes pay for the repairs.

  2. says

    I don’t see how it’s much worse that it was built for a high school than that it was built for a population, otherwise. I used to live in Baltimore, one of those cities that got raked over the coals for new stadia by major league baseball and the national football league. I shudder to think how much they cost and how much public money they transferred into private hands. And, need I mention that all of Baltimore’s public schools need money?

    America’s love of big dollar sports gives me a sad.

  3. says

    Allen has a population of 84 thousand, and it has a high school football stadium that seats 18 thousand. Saskatoon has a population of 250 thousand, and there isn’t a entertainment or sports facility in this city that would hold 18 thousand. And it’s a replacement for a 14 thousand seat stadium. Distorted priorities indeed.

  4. kevinv says

    Shutdown 18 months after opening? That’s some serious code violations. Look for a great deal of corruption in the construction, inspections, bidding maybe the engineering.

  5. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Adding to the problems for the architect and builder is that they are working on another facility, a $36-million office, for the district. Officials have ordered an independent review of the team’s work.

    Nothing suspicious there, move along.

  6. carlie says

    The video states that cracks in the concrete were noticed before the stadium even opened.

    Somebody did some really shitty work.

  7. says

    .But here’s the rub for liberal America: there was nothing illegal in what the community of Allen did, and they raised the money in a democratic referendum, and a majority of the residents wanted this obscene temple to sports.

    And fuck them too; the fact that they’re even able to do this kind of shit with the educational system is a not-insignificant part of the problem; If they want to have a private subscription for some kind of sports club stadium for kids, that’s one thing, but even requesting public monies for such a purpose makes them assholes of the highest water.

    but we always hesitate to take action in these cases.

    Although I’m damned if I can see why; granted, smacking the stadium out of the hands of this particular bunch of shitheads on a piecemeal basis won’t fix anything; there needs to be systemic reform. There’s no valid reason that school funding shouldn’t be allocated at the state (or possibly even Federal) level, on pretty much a strict per-student basis (although I realize that there may need to be some adjustments to make up cost of living for teachers in some areas, variances to account for different proportions of students with special needs etc).

    . I’d also rather see the people of Allen grow up and be inspired by learning to do better for their kids, than that someone come along and slap the football out of their hands and yell at them for being stupid.

    Yeah, fuck that. Would you say the same if they’d blown the money on a Creation Science wing? It’s about the same level of ‘inspiring to do better for their kids’.

  8. travisrm89 says

    I agree that their priorities are not in the right place, but why is football “superficial”?

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I agree that their priorities are not in the right place, but why is football “superficial”?

    Hmm…Let’s see. Are any sports part of reading, writing, and arithmetic? Doesn’t appear to be so. So it is nothing but fluff on the educational system. If left off, nothing important changes as to the basic mission of a public school.

  10. travisrm89 says

    @Nerd of Redhead

    Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren’t the only valuable things in life. Learning to work as a team and lead and put in hard work for a future reward are valuable life skills too.

  11. says

    travisrm89 #11
    It has no detectable significance to everyday life? How useful is knowing how to toss a pigskin ovoid about compared to knowing how to make a household budget, write a resume, understand a historical precedent?

  12. Dick the Damned says

    For the record, i’m a structural engineer, with experience in designing bridges, structures for buildings, etc, but not stadiums.

    From the quoted crack widths of up to about 20 mm, that is evidence of something very, very seriously wrong. It could be in the geotechnics, the design, or the construction. I’m curious about how this project was commissioned. Maybe it was a design & build project? The contractor & engineer are involved in another major project.

    I would love to know what went wrong, but by the time that comes out, you folks will probably have lost interest. One can only hope that consultants, contractors, & those who commission such work, will learn from it.

  13. consciousness razor says

    I agree that their priorities are not in the right place, but why is football “superficial”?

    Why? It just is. I’m not sure there needs to be a reason why that’s the case.

    If you’re claiming it does have something significant or substantial under the surface, you should say what you think that is.

    Learning to work as a team and lead and put in hard work for a future reward are valuable life skills too.

    Indeed, football can provide these at the most superficial level possible. Better off doing something else with your $60 million.

  14. Pteryxx says

    from NBC Dallas:

    The Allen Independent School District said the cracks were first noticed before the stadium opened in 2012 and initially were viewed as normal before they worsened during the last year and half.

    The cracks are up to 3/4-inch wide — wider than would be expected from normal foundation cracking, Allen ISD officials said, when asked about drought conditions and how bad the cracks are.

    I haven’t been able to find any report from the 2012 opening that mentions cracks dismissed as normal.

    A local Fox report mentions the tarps are to keep water from freezing in the cracks and widening them. Yeah, that’s encouraging. Maybe that’s what was widening them in the first place? Obviously? (At least then it wouldn’t be from fracking earthquakes.)

    Pogue Construction’s one-page statement, such as it is: PDF link

    Sample:

    Pogue believes it has a special relationship Allen ISD and considers Allen ISD a significant long term partner. Pogue’s strong relationship with Allen ISD has grown since Pogue’s first project with Allen ISD in 1983. Pogue believes that one reason for the strength of that relationship is Pogue’s repeated demonstration of its commitment to quality construction and
    to stand behind its services and products.

  15. consciousness razor says

    Note the context here too, because PZ’s point doesn’t seem to be just that football is superficial and that’s that:

    It’s a beautiful stadium, built for a public high school, that cost $60 million. That’s stunning, that a school district in America can be so rich that they can raise that much money…and then they spend it on something as superficial as football.

    You can play football (and learn teamwork and put in hard work) in an open field that costs no one $60 million. What is that money spent on? Superficial, extravagant bullshit like this stadium.

    Or kids can learn those things in numerous other ways that aren’t simply about sending a ball past an endzone while giving themselves concussions, which also teach them something useful (on top of these secondary benefits you claim it offers) and don’t require boatloads of money wasted on wowing people with conspicuous consumption.

  16. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren’t the only valuable things in life. Learning to work as a team and lead and put in hard work for a future reward are valuable life skills too.

    Except that only works in sports for a small fraction of the school population. Those lessons can be learned with regular classwork. That is the problem with sports, and what makes it superfluous.
    Oh, and our teams in industry don’t need sports background, as participation requires using the 3R knowledge, not throwing a football.

  17. stevem says

    re larnin:

    Butttt…, exercise is vital for supplying the brain with enough blood to facilitate learning. Not to be sili; that’s all the neurologists tell us oldpeople: “to keep your brain active (from descending into dementia), keep your body active.” And I am NOT presenting this as satire, I know this is true. But even though physical activity is important to the learning process, why pick Football as the only choice of physical activity? Football easily overwhelms any gains it might produce from activity, by its frequent (and mandatory) incidences of TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury, i.e. concussions] Football is just the thing to attract all the “donations”, to attract all the parents to “support” the school [only when the team is winning though] and to look better than every town in the area by having the biggest stadium. “Only the uncaring would let their kids play in an unkempt, open field.” Too often that attitude ‘trickles down’ to the students themselves. They will attack their rival schools as, “We have a better stadium than you, therefore we are better and deserve the title” never mentioning the quality of the teams, just the stadiums. Football stadiums might be a “good idea”, but FAIL miserably in practice.

  18. Rich Woods says

    It’s already falling apart and has developed dangerous cracks.

    “Tch! You’ve had some right cowboys in here.”

    /Brit humour

  19. Pteryxx says

    And it’s a replacement for a 14 thousand seat stadium. Distorted priorities indeed.

    To be fair, 10 thousand of those 14 thousand seats were rented temporary bleachers. It was a 4 thousand seat stadium from 1976 that relied on the bleachers and rows of portable toilets to expand capacity. Source from 2012

    The $59.6 million price tag on the new stadium is what floors people. But Allen ISD has always aimed for top of the line on facilities for its high school, and not just in sports. The $119 million bond that funded the stadium also gave rise to a $23.2 million Performing Arts Center that has its own television studio, a student-run restaurant and a $100,000 Steinway grand piano.

    And Allen’s a wealthy Dallas suburb-town that likes business-attracting showpieces. Forbes from 2012:

    So, basically, this is a city that’s got a decent tax base, relative to its population, to work with.

    And work with it, Allen has, to use public money to build amenities that will make it stand out from its fellow suburbs, especially when the day comes there’s no more land to add residences, and growth will be harder to come by. (Allen estimates its population can reasonably top out at about 95,000.) In 2009, the city opened the $52.6 million Allen Event Center, a 7,500-seat arena that hosts minor-league hockey, arena football, indoor soccer, and concerts, among other events, that was part of the Village at Allen, with more than 1 million square feet of retail space and 500,000 square feet of office space that was part of a public-private partnership with developers. No longer would the people of Allen be required to travel into Dallas to see sports, or Hall and Oates.

    So the stadium was part of Allen’s overall business package; except that it’s still part of a public school, for teaching students (those whose families can afford to live in Allen, natch), and not a shopping mall or business park.

  20. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    Learning to work as a team and lead and put in hard work for a future reward are valuable life skills too.

    But see, working like a high school football team isn’t really handy in adult life. You may believe it is, but except in the army, it isn’t directly transferrable. Working on class projects, now, that’ll help in office jobs. Or vo-tech classes, now there are some job skills. But just part of the student body working up on tackling? That you had to lead with teamwork shows how useless sports are.

    That teamwork is used against other teams, by the way. You learn opposition just as much, and opposition to teams and schools and towns who are arbitrarily designated as opponents. Schools hold compulsory pep rallies to work up emotions against neighbors that are just like them. Fostering pointless rivalry between schools while some players learn “teamwork” is not a net benefit. Thanks to sports, people are learning to hate.

    As for leading, well, who is the leader? Some asshole of a coach? The quarterback? No, most of the team is learning to follow, and to obey.

    And, as there are opposing teams, there is always someone whose hard work and dedication is rewarded with failure. That failure, thanks to sports mentality, is called “losing”. The hard work and achieving of goals can be taught and done just as well in a classroom, without needing a loser, and with better lessons for a career.

    Most of us went to Amercan high schools, and we know what the jocks learned.

  21. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Pteryxx:

    Reading your description of the ways that Allen is spending money to create wealth in the small city makes me think of a certain libertarian, on a current thread, who claimed that government can never ever create anything. Apparently those super-duper liberals in Texas think it can.

  22. countryboy says

    Given the rising evidence of brain injury caused by football injuries the sport should be banned for anyone under the age of consent.

  23. samihawkins says

    Learning to work as a team and lead and put in hard work for a future reward are valuable life skills too.

    I grew up in a small football-obsessed Texas town and here’s my interpretation of your post:

    Learning to work as a team

    =learning to engage in a disgusting tribal mentality where you circle the wagons and protect those among you who have committed atrocious wrongs, visit Steubenville to see a particularly horrific example.

    and lead

    =And be taught that being stronger and faster means you’re entitled to a position of authority over those weaker and slower than you.

    and put in hard work for a future reward are valuable life skills too.

    =and get to breeze through school without putting in anywhere close to the amount of effort that the non-athletes have to because all the teachers are either too football-obsessed themselves or too scared of the backlash to ever flunk them.

  24. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Anyway, your schadenfreude for the day: the Allen High School stadium is closed. It’s already falling apart and has developed dangerous cracks.

    Who shall doubt “the secret hid
    Under Cheops’ pyramid”
    Was that the contractor did
    Cheops out of several millions?
    Or that Joseph’s sudden rise
    To Comptroller of Supplies
    Was a fraud of monstrous size
    On King Pharaoh’s swart Civilians?

  25. says

    I find it amazing that anyone actually supports high school football, but obviously many people are steeped in this culture and do not realize there are other ways to build teamwork that might included more students, or at least do not cost $60 million dollars. I shake my head whenever I see the teamwork and exercise excuses trotted out. How they can make those arguments without feeling dirty is beyond me.

  26. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Oh, but football is such a great thing for building character. I was taught to run through people. I was taught that I had to impose my will on the other team. I was taught to make sure that the next time that running back got the ball and saw me, he would be afraid for his life. I was taught that I needed to make the other player my ‘bitch’, to fuck them, to hurt them, to make them ‘cry like a little girl’. I was taught that I needed to get in their space, make them uncomfortable, make them hear footsteps. I was also taught that if I didn’t participate in the the team prayer, I didn’t play in the game. I was also taught that any boy who didn’t play football was a fag, a queer, a momma’s boy, a sissy. This was at a public high school in Maryland, not even in the Football Belt.

    No, I didn’t stay on the team.

  27. says

    On paper, I can accept that there are some less tangible benefits from school sports. Teamwork, socialization, strategy, and such. I would think the need for a playing field could be accomplished drawing lines on a sufficiently level patch of grass and putting up some aluminum stands. I suppose in bigger cities, they could maybe make some kind of deal with preexisting stadiums.

    It’s much messier in real life, unfortunately. Samihawkins covers much of the terrible sports culture above. Football is privileged above other extracurricular activities and diverts money away from everything else schools should be able to offer including the academics they’re supposed to exist for. Football players are privileged to the point that they can be seduced out of academic achievement by the easy ride. They’re often excused for criminal behavior, breeding antisocial values. Menyamble covers how the competitive culture breeds tribalism. To some extent, I think I’ve managed to break out of American jingoism in part because I broke out of sports tribalism early in my education.

  28. Pteryxx says

    If it’s about teamwork and exercise, why do they sell tickets? Why do only the select best players get to play, instead of having say A through D tier squads for anyone who wants to, or mixed-ability teams where the strongest players learn to support the others? And why do they only allow boys to play, instead of everyone?

    …Does this have something to do with raising libertarians? *significant glance to Ogvorbis at #27*

    Re tribal identity: note that Allen kept one giant high school, instead of several smaller ones, at least in part so that there would only be one team and one stadium. Texas Observer, 2012

    This stadium has been national news since the district unveiled its plans three years ago. Typically, the stories combine a little hoo-boy bigger-in-Texas wonder with hand-wringing about where schools spend money these days—an easy mark, given the stadium’s $60 million price tag. The locals offer a defense. Their old field was a dump, they say, a little 40-year-old park with rented bleachers. By refusing to slice their town between separate high schools with separate teams, Allen is keeping its unified identity intact, and it’s saving money too. Better one stadium at $60 million than two or three at $45 million apiece.

    Then why not build one big stadium and field teams from say four different high schools, or one mixed team under its own Allen banner, as many small rural towns in Texas already do?

    It isn’t about teamwork and exercise, nor yet fair play or participation. It’s about competition at the expense of all those other things. They build the trophy case – the stadium – first, and then make the students compete to deserve to be put in there.

  29. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Oh, yeah. Football is such a great way to build teamwork, leadership, character. What was I taught as a football player?

    I was taught that the players on the other team are not human, they are objects to be dominated. I was taught that I had to impose my superior will on them. I was taught to ‘make them my bitches,’ fuck them over, ride them hard. I was taught to run through them like they weren’t even there. I was taught that I needed to make them ‘cry like a little girl.’ I was taught that boys who did not play football were sissies, were momma’s boys, were faggots, were useless shits who would never be real men. I was taught that, as a football player, I didn’t have to take tests in most of my classes. I was also taught that if I didn’t participate in the team prayer, at a public high school, that I would not go on the field. I was taught to make other boys fear me, to make them afraid of being hurt, and to hurt them. I was taught how to twist ankles while in a tackle pile. I was taught to make my knuckles bleed and then shove them under the facemask of an opponent while in a tackle pile.

    What I learned is that I wanted nothing to do with playing football.

  30. vaiyt says

    Football is just the thing to attract all the “donations”, to attract all the parents to “support” the school

    Except then most of the money is funneled back into football, making the entire point moot.

  31. Pteryxx says

    Football is privileged above other extracurricular activities and diverts money away from everything else schools should be able to offer including the academics they’re supposed to exist for.

    The case against high school sports

    In many schools, sports are so entrenched that no one—not even the people in charge—realizes their actual cost. When Marguerite Roza, the author of Educational Economics, analyzed the finances of one public high school in the Pacific Northwest, she and her colleagues found that the school was spending $328 a student for math instruction and more than four times that much for cheerleading—$1,348 a cheerleader. “And it is not even a school in a district that prioritizes cheerleading,” Roza wrote. “In fact, this district’s ‘strategic plan’ has for the past three years claimed that math was the primary focus.” [...]

    Many of the costs are insidious, Roza has found, “buried in unidentifiable places.” For example, when teacher-coaches travel for game days, schools need to hire substitute teachers. They also need to pay for buses for the team, the band, and the cheerleaders, not to mention meals and hotels on the road. For home games, schools generally cover the cost of hiring officials, providing security, painting the lines on the field, and cleaning up afterward. “Logistics are a big challenge,” says Jared Bigham, until recently the supervising principal of two schools in Copperhill, Tennessee, and a former teacher, coach, and player. “Even though the coaches are in charge of the budgets, I still have to oversee them and approve each expenditure. You’re looking at 10 different budgets you have to manage.”

    From a school that abruptly cancelled its sports program to redistribute cash:

    Nathan missed the adrenaline rush of running out onto the field and the sense of purpose he got from the sport. But he began playing flag football for a club team on the weekends, and he admitted to one advantage during the week: “It did make you focus. There was just all this extra time. You never got behind on your work.”

    That first semester, 80 percent of the students passed their classes, compared with 50 percent the previous fall. About 160 people attended parent-teacher night, compared with six the year before. Principal Ruiz was so excited that he went out and took pictures of the parking lot, jammed with cars. Through some combination of new leadership, the threat of closure, and a renewed emphasis on academics, Premont’s culture changed. “There’s been a definite decline in misbehavior,” says Desiree Valdez, who teaches speech, theater, and creative writing at Premont. “I’m struggling to recall a fight. Before, it was one every couple of weeks.”

  32. kevinv says

    @Dick the Damned – Here’s an article that names the architect and contractor, they don’t mention who did the structural engineering. They don’t mention if it was design-build, but i suspect not. They call the contractor the district’s long time contractor, and the contractor says this was the largest project they’ve done. I’m not even sure they put it out to bid.

    @travisrm89 – sports, not just football, can teach many valuable lessons. but football is having a ridiculous amount of money spent on it to teach around 40 kids a year these lessons? While the other 500-1000 school kids are left without materials to teach them even more life lessons? Especially a sport with much higher risk of lifelong injuries than other sports. Theater can also teach kids how to work in teams and about leadership. Having one program suck up all the opportunities is not good.

  33. says

    The city of Sacramento elected a jock as its mayor. His most recent “State of the City” address was all about the need to build a downtown arena so that a professional basketball team will stay in town. Hence the city is preparing to dig deep into its pockets to subsidize its construction. Sacramento is not content with being the capital of the state of California. It’s obsessed with being “a world-class city” (whatever the heck that is) and apparently professional sports are de rigueur in that quest. I remain unpersuaded.

  34. says

    Learning to work as a team and lead and put in hard work for a future reward are valuable life skills too.

    Sports-related traumatic brain injury doesn’t help life skills much.

  35. doublereed says

    You know what also builds teamwork, discipline, and valuable life skills? Music.

    You know what also gets you mega-popular with the opposite sex? Music.

    Just saying. There are other options out there.

  36. says

    You know what would be cool? If the students built a stadium. Talk about teamwork-building! And there are so many valuable skills to be learned. And it’s outdoors. Admittedly, Texas is a pretty warm place to be hauling rocks around in but playing football is much less manly than building the pyramids was.

  37. AtheistPowerlifter says

    If you’re going to ban Football for incidence of MTBI, you also need to add:

    - Women’s Hockey
    - Rugby
    - Soccer (in particular Women’s Soccer)
    - Wrestling
    - etc

    As a Sports Therapist – at my University (for example) our Women’s Hockey team has a concussion rate 4-5 times that of Football. Women’s Soccer is triple (and I don’t even want to talk about Women’s Rugby). Skateboarding and snowboarding leave all of those way behind unfortunately – very high concussion incidence.

    Understand that I am not disagreeing that there are many many problems in Sport Culture. I see it daily, and it’s an uphill battle to educate these kids. To me – physical expression is as important as intellectual expression. Is learning music more “important” that teaching kids about fitness? No, but I guess it depends on what you value. (I am NOT saying that Football is a necessary nor an exemplary example of ‘physical expression’….just that unfortunately it is very popular, and makes Universities and High Schools lots of money).

    In Canada at the University level, most teams lose money. Athletes get some help with tuition but that’s about it. Our games have 1500 spectators, while High School games in the US can have 20 – 30 thousand. So maybe my reference point is WAY off base. Our University Teams main extracurricular campaign is anti-bullying – which can be ironic as even with our ‘lower tier’ teams we still suffer from the same sports culture issues.

    But then again, I doubt you could sit in on a music group, chess club, theatre troupe without encountering bullying, sexism and homophobia.

    That being said I don’t disagree with PZ that a 60 million dollar high school stadium is crazy (spectators sit in lawn chairs to watch our games).

    AP

  38. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Was the person who got the town behind the project a guy named Lyle Lanley who sang them a song about how awesome their town would be with the monorail football stadium in it?

  39. lochaber says

    I’m a bit late to this, but I want to argue that most sports, while claiming to teach ‘teamwork, actually undermine it due to the celebrity nature of jocks in most U.S. schools. Individuals are rewarded with status, titles, and other bonuses for feats that are the product of a team.

    All too often in a team sport, your ‘star’ players (or maybe even just those who aspire to be a ‘star’ player) will make decisions that are detrimental to the team, but will bring them more attention and notice.

    As to teamwork, that can be built any number of ways – standard academic group projects are one of the first that come to mind, and probably most applicable to higher education and employment style teamwork.

    As to the benefits of exercise, I feel that can be better handled through a mix of effective physical education (i.e., not what we have now…), clubs, and intramural activities. There are a lot of activities you can do with a very limited budget. Full-contact Amercian-style football isn’t one of them…

    I think everyone would be better off if we changed the focus from winning and competition, and tried to encourage more actual teamwork, personal improvement, and enjoyment.

  40. tsig says

    They used uncle Bill Bob’s Christian Construction company and Cousin Jim Bob’s Evangelical Engineering Co and nephew Joe Bob’s New Testament Concrete Co. What could have gone wrong?

  41. David Marjanović says

    And there was desking of heads and palming of faces.

    BTW, what is it with this American obsession with leading and leadership?

  42. doublereed says

    If you’re going to ban Football for incidence of MTBI, you also need to add:

    - Women’s Hockey
    - Rugby
    - Soccer (in particular Women’s Soccer)
    - Wrestling
    - etc

    First of all, what is under “etc”? Because it’s not some infinite list or something. Don’t pretend like it is.

    I’m not exactly sure who is arguing to ban football. More likely it will become less popular as people are like “HOLY FUCK I don’t want my child doing that!” And you probably shouldn’t.

    Second of all, is this an argument against banning it? Because honestly it doesn’t sound to me like an argument against banning it.

  43. doublereed says

    But then again, I doubt you could sit in on a music group, chess club, theatre troupe without encountering bullying, sexism and homophobia.

    lol ok. Yes, when I think bullying, sexism, and homophobia, I think theater culture. Yea, sure there’s that stuff in any subgroup because it’s acceptable in general by society. But don’t go implying false equivalences like that. Especially with the macho BS that sports cultures imply.

  44. anteprepro says

    BTW, what is it with this American obsession with leading and leadership?

    Mindless, knee-jerk “individualism”. American culture is very garbled on the matter, because they simultaneously value obedience and authoritarianism while also valuing individuality, marching to the beat of your drummer, paving your own way, etc. etc. It’s what happens when you get a country that also wants to praise the peons for being complacent while also praising the plutocrat for finding a unique route for “earning” their wealth.

  45. anteprepro says

    The tragic part is no lessons will be learned from this and no priorities will change.

  46. Fred Durstin says

    Ah, Texas. Quite the interesting dichotomy. My employ dragged me here in 2005, with a Middle School daughter and a three year old son. Copious research in the Metroplex led me to a very interesting school district, a district that encompasses three counties, and has just built their third high school. When we bought a home, and, America, if you saw what $350K buys here, brick and stone, yes, even in the kitchen, $95 a sq foot in 2006, even on an acre and a half, you’d be angry. In NY, a comparable home would be 2.5 million even in the hinterlands of Long Island. This school district, at the time, had one of the most expensive and modern football stadiums in the state.

    I have to admit, the Friday night atmosphere was electric. My daughter landed on the drill team, a skirted, sequined, cowboy-hatted group of exceptional young women. I could have done without the overt prayer before each halftime show, but I was never led by any rep from the school, only the students.

    Here is where the story diverges. Not only do they have an impressive stadium, but they have an amazing academic curriculum. In Middle School, AP course are chosen which allow the children to graduate high school with 52 college credits. There are currently five different academies that high school students can attend. The first is a medical academy to prepare students for medical training, in whatever capacity or discipline imaginable. Our neighbor’s son has just been accepted to Pennsylvania State University’s Jefferson Medical College program where he will receive his MD in 6 years.

    They also boast a college prep academy where they will complete freshman and sophomore requirements before the age of 18 and can attain a bachelors degree after two years of college. There is a technology academy, a culinary academy, and a, haha, cosmetology academy. I thought my children’s education may suffer, but, in fact, my daughter is a senior at a certain college in New Haven, despite that stadium

    Are there things I would change? Yes. The religiosity is ridiculous. The teen pregnancy rate is alarming. Not one child from my daughter’s school district in NY delivered a baby in high school. In Texas, 23 of her classmates had babies. Of course, this is conjecture, but even if you corrected for abortion, the difference is palpable, especially in light of the fact that my daughter’s peers in NY were from Irish and Italian families almost exclusively. The amount of children lost to MVAs in TX is also unprecedented. Racism. It exists here, but it is hidden. In NY, neighbors would use the N word continually, ridiculously. I have never heard it here, although, we were in a snowy field once that became muddy after sustained ATV use. They built a muddy snowman, called it a certain President’s name, put a rope around it’s neck, and pulled it along I quickly collected my son and had a teaching moment.

    By the way, they do teach proper Science in this district, despite the objections of the, “Bless your heart” crowd.

    I felt the Allen stadium was obscene. They are a huge district but do not approach our district academically in any manner. Will this give these morons pause? I doubt it. They’re still fighting the Civil War, an insurrection against the US government and calling themselves patriots in the same breath. White man think with forked brain.

    Thanks for the rant space. Texas is weird but they call Austin weird. Damn facts and their Liberal bias.

  47. Fred Durstin says

    I saw the post about theatre and music group and homophobia. In our district, in Middle School, children are given a choice of two electives. One must be orchestra, band, or chorus the other is one of the other of those options or theater/drama and technology. Interesting, no?

    Of course, a 6th grader committed suicide in January with a shotgun he got for Christmas. He was a victim of bullying and was given unfettered access to a firearm. He was a twin. He had an older sister. The gun fondlers are ridiculous.

    There is a bully in my son’s class. My son gets athletic ability, apparently, from the UPS man. They were playing at recess. He went for the basketball and knocked the bully down. The bully jumped up and began punching my son. He did hurt him, but my son did not hit him back. He is a better man than I am. The other boy was expelled. His divorced parents will have to pay for other arrangements. My son is a better man than I am.

  48. shoeguy says

    Football is the state religion in Texas so sixty million is really getting off cheap. Sixty million bucks wouldn’t build the average mega church or pay the preachers for a year.

  49. ChasCPeterson says

    um, if you ban highschool football, then what is the marching band supposed to do?
    The cheerleaders? The pom-pom girls? The color guard? The dude in the mascot suit? That insurance guy who does the play-by-play?

    think, people.

  50. kevinv says

    I don’t think high school aged children playing football should be banned, but it should not be part of the school curriculum. separate the two and don’t spend public tax dollars on football.

    Other sports? I have no problem separating those as well.

  51. chigau (違う) says

    um, if you ban highschool football, then what is the marching band supposed to do?
    The cheerleaders? The pom-pom girls? The color guard? The dude in the mascot suit? That insurance guy who does the play-by-play?

    The chess club could use some encouragement.
    And the swim team.
    What about the debate team? Picture a debate with the spandex-clad doing back-flips whenever a good point is made.

  52. anteprepro says

    um, if you ban highschool football, then what is the marching band supposed to do?
    The cheerleaders? The pom-pom girls? The color guard? The dude in the mascot suit? That insurance guy who does the play-by-play?

    They could liven up SAT prep courses.

  53. 2leenelson says

    I think the story is even more ironic. The’ve been fracking in the area, and we all know that never causes earthquakes ;)

  54. robro says

    Al Dente @#18

    How many students are on the football team? It’s probably less than 100.

    While the emphasis here seems to be on the structure as a “football stadium,” it does include a gym and other facilities used by all the sports at the school. I would assume it’s also used for regular physical education classes. So the number of students served by the facility may be significantly larger than the football team.

    While I’m no fan of football jock-dom, sports and physical education programs can be invaluable to some students. When I was a morose, chronically depressed sophomore in college, the director of my major program encouraged me start getting some regular physical exercise. I did and it helped.

    That said, $60 million is an awful lot to spend just for a facility for such activities at a high school, much less the cost of equipment, coaching, etc. Obviously, a good deal of that $60 million went into the football part, which is an highly questionable physical activity for teenagers. Also, I’m betting nothing like that much has been spent on classrooms, labs, vocational training, and other facilities and equipment which are also invaluable to quite a few students.

    Of course, someone should be looking into whether some of that $60 million went into pockets when it should have gone into concrete.

  55. vaiyt says

    As a Sports Therapist – at my University (for example) our Women’s Hockey team has a concussion rate 4-5 times that of Football. Women’s Soccer is triple (and I don’t even want to talk about Women’s Rugby).

    What kind of soccer are your girls playing?? I’m going to dread whenever my women’s national teams meets yours.

  56. lochaber says

    I’m wondering if the 3x rate of concussions with women’s soccer is just that it’s actually treated and diagnosed more often, not that it actually happens more often.

    You can get some pretty good collisions in soccer – it’s not intentional (er, well, it shouldn’t be, but then there’s that ‘sportsmanship’ bit again…), but if you have someone on defense charging to the ball with the intent to boot it as far down field as possible, there’s a pretty good chance of a collision. Not too difficult to imagine to players smacking heads together in the process.

  57. MadHatter says

    ChasCPeterson @58

    um, if you ban highschool football, then what is the marching band supposed to do?
    The cheerleaders? The pom-pom girls? The color guard? The dude in the mascot suit? That insurance guy who does the play-by-play?

    I can’t speak to Texas, but I did go to HS in a major city known for sports mania. But in our state marching band and color guard were completely separate entities that had their own competitions that could take them to national level. We resented being forced to play at football games because the players were always quite nasty to us and they weren’t required to support our competitions. Cheerleaders also have their own competitions separate from football too.

    Anyone who was in the marching band was also in one of the other other bands (jazz, orchestra, etc) and often other things like theatre or choir. Football players rarely did anything else.

  58. says

    @Marcus#2

    I don’t see how it’s much worse that it was built for a high school than that it was built for a population, otherwise

    As an honest question – do professional stadiums ever end up turning a profit for a city? Unlike High School sports, professional sports are at least supposed to bring in some sort of revenue. Obviously ticket sales and the like, as well as increased tourism. But the bill is largely footed by the community, and it seems there is a lot of infrastructure upkeep involved with stadiums.

    Really how long, if ever, do these things actually make money? I imagine not often.

  59. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @MadHatter –

    You recognized the sarcasm in Chas’ comment, right? Cause you could be building on his statement or criticizing it, and I just wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page.