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America needs 10,000 more coaches like him

OPINION by Jim Davidson | February 12, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

While none of us likes to get our feathers ruffled, occasionally someone needs to say something to set the record straight. This is especially true when it involves the direction our country is heading -- which only leads to a dark rainy night, with no sign, and a bridge out up ahead.

What I am talking about is the inordinate amount of excitement for the sports culture in which our nation presently lives. When you pay an assistant college coach $400,000 a year, and he leaves to take a head coaching position at another school for a million dollars, our priorities are out of whack. Now I understand the law of "supply and demand" and that fan support is what makes it all possible.

Now, I live in the great state of Arkansas, and we have the Arkansas Razorbacks. I love to watch them, especially the baseball, football, and basketball teams. Certainly, I love it when we win but do not personally attend the games. During basketball or football season, when we have an undefeated team, the coach could get elected governor and we raise their pay. This all the while, and I have said this in other columns, we have 300,000 adults who do not have a high school diploma.

What we must understand is there are consequences for our priorities and either of these sports is only a game. When we think it's OK for commercial companies to pay high school or college athletes to endorse their products or services, we are on the wrong side of the slippery slope. The long-term effect of this is that academics, the reason our country has become great in the first place, is going to suffer and be relegated to the back burner. It is wrong to not have the money to build a new library and have money to build a new football stadium.

With this in mind, we had a high school coach speak to our Lions Club sometime back, and it warmed my heart. His name is Justin Kramer and he coaches the teams at Conway Christian School here in Conway. His football team had a pretty good year in 2022, but the previous years they only won one game. This young man previously coached at one of the large schools in Little Rock, and he left when they started recruiting football players. He just takes the players who are enrolled at his school and does the best with what he has to field a team.

Rather, his focus is on character and academics and producing quality young people who will become great citizens, good husbands and wives, and quality employees. In short, Justin Kramer has his priorities right and his school has a tremendous academic program of which they can be proud. And parents are willing to pay good money for their children to attend there. Now, I understand that everyone does not have the money to send their child or children to a private school, but public schools are supported by our tax dollars, and they should have their priorities right as well.

After Justin's talk to our Lions Club, I made the comment that America needs 10,000 coaches just like him. Just something to think about, as we plan. I will be gone but, God willing, my children will be here.

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