There is no question that a number of wins by the Florida State football team under Coach Bowden will disappear due to the educational assistance scandal being investigated by the NCAA. But there is a much bigger and more significant issue here than FSU, Bowden wins, for college football. The situation is a indictment of the US educational system in all grades and those that we pay with our tax dollars to run it.
The public schools in general, particularly those in the inner cities of our nation, are a joke and represent the greatest single challenge to our nations future we face. The cry we here from our politicians in both parties is “we need more money for schools.” That is also a joke. Year after year we give them more and more money without any significant improvement. The popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Private schools around the country educate our children far better at a fraction of the expense. How? Because they are not unionized and can terminate a bad teacher instantly rather than letting them stay because they have union protection. The private schools also do not have large bureaucracies, multiple levels of management, automatic salary increases based on longevity rather than ability, and indirect overheads like costly health care programs that come with a negotiated contract.
In the inner cities, our politicians have promised for the 62 years I have been around that if we vote for them they will fix what is wrong with our schools. But at best they just throw more money at the problem and claim they have done what they could. But when the parents ask for school vouchers to use their tax money to send their children to private school, the elected officials refuse—that would hurt the teachers unions which are providing re-election funds to those very politicians.
Slow learners far too often are either passed on to the next grade or ignored because it takes too much time to bring them up to the level of the rest of the class. Great athletes in this category like those that were admitted to FSU and many other universities around the country were passed on because the high school wanted to give them a chance to take advantage of their unique abilities. Then colleges want to help themselves and the players by allowing them to participate in their sport. But colleges are not equipped to take a player from a 2nd or 3rd grade educational level to a point where they can do college work.
The biggest frauds in the system are those at the NCAA that are “shocked” that such things are going on. Who are they kidding? Have they talked to recent graduates of big city schools? Have they spent any time watching what happens on a daily basis there? I have taught at the high school and college levels. I have seen the problem from both sides of that fence. It isn’t pretty.
So what do we do about this mess? First, throw the bums out. If the politicians are not part of a real solution, they are part of the problem. Second, support those candidates that call for educational vouchers. Vouchers create real competition which will force bad schools to improve or close. Either alternative is fine with me. Third, the NCAA has to recognize the problem and make special categories for those players that have the talent to play college sports but are not educationally advanced enough to do the work. Last, the colleges must be limited as to how many of these athletes they can accept and must provide them the special help they need. The schools must be held accountable for helping these players get the basics they need to be able to do college work within a reasonable time frame.
Football is the largest single area where this problem is the most obvious. There is no effective “developmental” league that is not educationally based where a player that either is not able to or is not at all interested in doing college work. If the NFLPA really wants to help future players, let both the league and the union put money into a football school. Several young men mentioned in the ESPN “Outside the Lines” program have become successful NFL players. Give them the football, social and financial education they need and forget forcing them to go to college. The NBA established the developmental league but then showed an unbelievable level of hypocrisy by requiring players to be out of high school 1 year before being eligible for the draft. That has caused the “one and done” fiasco putting more youngsters that only want a professional athletic career to pretend they are college students.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .