Today is Black Monday in the National Football League. As of 10 AM, Eastern Standard Time, six head coaches have been fired. Another two were let go in the middle of the season. That’s 25% of all head coaches in the League – a high turnover rate for any profession.
Here in our hometown of Denver, Vance Joseph got the boot and it was no surprise. Our beloved Broncos finished with a second consecutive losing season; the first time that’s happened since 1972. Sportswriters, fans, and anyone with a mouth on ESPN were calling for his head weeks ago. Outrage poured forth from the stands while insults cascaded upon Joseph’s head as he roamed the sideline.
This is still just a game, right?
Look, I love football as much as the next guy (with season tickets, to boot) but let’s face it: in the grand scheme of life, the NFL and its attendant drama count for very little. It got me thinking: what if similar outrage and attention were directed at poor-performing school districts? What if local news stations started giving over/unders on whether Superintendent Smith’s contract would be renewed next year? What if school test scores were followed like a team’s playoff chances?
I know. I should wake up and smell the coffee. But what really drives this obsession with sports? I think it’s the competition. I think people love football because it’s where a new idea (or player, scheme, coach) is immediately tried and tested. The gridiron is where something thought up in the mind can be executed in reality, in front of millions of fans. You are weighed in the balance and found…
When I get together with my instructors to plan a new retreat or operation, we’re like kids drawing up plays in the dirt. How can we outwit, out-think, or overpower the opposition to get to the end zone? We do this because we constantly want to up our game and that of our students. We want new ways to challenge and improve them. We want them to do something we’ve never seen before. We want them to do something they never thought they could do. The joy in their eyes when this happens is the most rewarding part of our job.
Yet to do this, we need freedom of thought and action. We need energy, passion, and skill. Do any of these descriptions fit your local school district? Probably not. It’s the same thing every year: same schedules, same classes, same books, same tests, same assignments, same teachers, same results, same arguments over why there’s never any improvement.
Maybe now I understand why ESPN doesn’t cover school board meetings. The closest thing to it is the draft, but at least with that there’s some excitement for the future.
Yet with every new year, hope springs eternal, so give a thought in 2019 to what might be possible when we allow ourselves to draw up some plays in the dirt. Statue of Liberty, anyone?