Warning: This Column Touches On A Florida Core Value That May Threaten The Faint Of Heart

Guest Columnist

We are now in the second year of a state and local revenue turndown with more to come. One activity that is bearing the brunt of the cost cutting is K-12 education.

Salaries, textbooks, the arts, building maintenance and just about everything is on the table.

Just about everything except for one activity. It is an activity which is venerated like Jesus in the Vatican. To question its cost puts you in a category along with terrorists, traitors and pedophiles.


I am talking about, about, about.I’m sorry I just can‘t say it. Like Orthodox Jews who must spell the deity’s name “G-d  I will have to use dashes rather than spell it out.


 I am talking about “f–tb-ll.

There, I’ve sorta said it.

So what is there about it that keeps this dangerous, expensive, questionable activity off the cost cutting table?

This is an activity that every year results in kids dying or being paralyzed. Annually, tens of thousands break bones, tear up ankles, backs and most notably knees in ways that leave life injuries.

Who of us does not know someone physically limited from a high school f–tb-ll injury. One study in Peoria, Illinois showed that 42.1% of seniors sustained a meaningful injury during their years of high school f–tb-ll:


How many kids would have to get injured in chemistry class before there would be a hue and cry to close down the labs? I don’t exactly know; but I am certain it would be substantially less than 42.1%.

Not only is it dangerous it is incredibly expensive. A 2007 study argues that the annual economic cost of California high school f–tb-ll injuries exceeded $144,000,000:


We are not even talking about the tax dollars that go into playing the game; stadiums, coaches, uniforms, weight rooms.

For what? To feed bodies to the Gators, Canes and Noles?!?! 

Ironically, at a time that costs of the high school games are going up, fan interest is waning. 

Back in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s the Miami High-Edison game drew 30,000 to the Roddy Burdine Stadium.  [That’s The Orange Bowl to you newcomers.] 

These days attendance is in the hundreds.

So what should we do? Here’s a start.

The Broward County School Board should give an honest count t o what all this is costing. If they can tell calculate transportation costs they can do the same for f–tb-ll.

Have I touched a raw nerve? Maybe, maybe not.

But in an abundance of caution I’ll be sending the wife out to start the car.

12 Responses to “Warning: This Column Touches On A Florida Core Value That May Threaten The Faint Of Heart”

  1. Tim Tebow says:

    Sam, you are wrong.
    High school sports teaches students discipline and team work. It fights the obesity that is plauging our country. Ever hear the phrase “ideal minds are the devil’s plaything?” High school football gives students something positive to do after school. Wouldn’t you rather have students playing football than smoking marijuana?

  2. mister courthouse says:

    Sam isn’t satisfied with attacking God. Now he is taking on football. What’s next? Motherhood? What’s wrong with football? It teaches children positive skills and attitudes.
    Go back to criticizing God, Sam.

  3. Schools Man says:

    This state should be able to pay for both education and sports. We are not a Third World county.

  4. S. Only says:

    I would like to know just what the football costs ARE to the Broward County School Board. Does it NOT pay for itself? Are we taking FTE funds to pay for after school sports instead of academics? I do think sports are needed, but so are the arts, music, drama, vocational school, etc.

  5. Kids Love Football says:

    Is this a threat? Who is Sam Fields? Doesn’t he have clout with the School Board? Are they floating a trial balloon through him? Don’t take away a positive element of our education system. School Board members must find the money to pay for football.

  6. sam fields` says:

    First of all my problem is not with all high schools sports. It is only with football and it is based on two factors–injuries and $$$$$.

    In the spirit of full disclosure I started college on an athletic scholarship. I was pretty good swimmer with offers from among others UF. I took up the offer from Alabama which turned out to be an unmitigated disaster—of my own making.

    As far as dollars go let’s make clear that high school football does not come close to paying for itself. It would not surprise me if it cost hundreds of thousand per school. Apparently Mr. Outhouse thinks it is unreasonable for the taxpayers to know what they are paying.

    I didn’t even get into the bogus staffing that I saw in high school [Go North Miami Pioneers!] where people were hired to teach—if you could call it that—as a cover to get a new assistant coach.

    Football builds character? To the contrary the papers are filled with stories about football stars having grades fixed, money and girls slipped to them by corrupt alumni and college recruiters. Back in the 1980’s Ross Perot headed up a committee looking into Texas HS football. When the report recommended outlawing a common practice of holding back talented but undersized 8th graders he literally needed bodyguards.

    Exactly what is the character lesson to a forty year old with an arthritic knee in need of a transplant arising from a tackle that turned his ACL into Shredded Wheat??

    There is not a single character lesson that cannot be taught cheaper and safer without relying on high school football.

  7. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Football is one of the greaatest sports not only for the players but the cheerleaders and the students. It gives them a chance of belonging that they have a TEAM. Commaraderie between opposing teams brings the schools closer together. It can’t possibly be that costly and parents pay to attend the games and they sell snacks!!!! Go away you vultures circling the field!!!!

  8. sam fields` says:

    Dear “Tim Tebow Says”:

    High school football fights obesity? Are you kidding. Have you looked at today’s high school linemen?
    When you are 6’2″ and weigh 300+ lbs you are NOT healthy even if you can bench 400. Our skeletal system will not take that kind of weight.

    Football keeps kids from substance abuse? What a joke. Steroids, creatine and a host of questionable pharmaceuticals proliferate high school football.

    On a more mundane level I fondly recall that following North Miami football games the parking lot at Marcella’s [best garlic rolls in the world] was littered with beer cans. That was 1962. These days I am sure the beer is mixed with bong hits.

    If this letter represents Tebow’s sense of reality it is no wonder the NFL won’t be drafting him in 2009 or 2010.

  9. sam fields` says:

    Dear Beth
    I would be willing to bet that all the snack and ticket sales don’t cover the liability and health insurance costs that the Broward School Board pays for football. It would not surprise me if if was a million a year.

    But you make my point. We don’t know. Or do you think the cost of HS football should be a state secret?

  10. Mister Courthouse says:

    Let’s tackle Sam Fields and send him to the bench for the rest of the game!

  11. oh no says:

    If there were no football, there would be no cheerleaders, and no marching bands! Where would we be without marching bands! I say keep football but only so the marching bands will have a place to play!

  12. sam fields` says:

    Does it get any better than a high school marching band playing a medley of Jimi Hendrix hits.

    Seventy six trombones doing “The Watchtower” and “Foxy Lady”—aah

    The cheerleaders can do the basketball games not to mention the players.