Thursday, December 18, 2008

Schools and scoreboards that don't know the score

Modern sports reporting prides itself on tying athletics to the real world, but today’s Oregonian was living in la-la land with a gushy story about glitzy video scoreboards at high schools. The new high-tech boards — billboards really — are showcases for junk food and junk beverages.

Oh, they do show the score, buried somewhere in the 7-Up and Dr. Pepper ads.

The Oregonian’s sports editors might want to check out today’s Nicholas Kristof column in the New York Times. He addresses the menace posed to kids by soft drinks, aka “liquid candy bars.” In New York state, Gov. Paterson has proposed slapping a hefty 18 percent sales tax on soft drinks in order to discourage their consumption. Tax revenue could be used to support our schools.

Meanwhile high school athletics departments, to tap into advertising revenues and to hype sports, are welcoming beverage advertisers to sell dangerous, diabetes-causing junk drinks to kids via score boards.

In the Oregonian story, an athletic coach in Dallas, Oregon, added a scary but true observation. The article quoted him as saying that sports is another classroom for kids. In other words, sports teaches lessons — in this case, dangerous ones.

As the coach put it, “I really think so goes athletics, so goes your school.” And so goes education.

So what’s the score? Health — 0; Diabetes, obesity and other sugar-related health problems — 200 plus (in pounds).

And the people who run the schools are getting more stupid, and dangerous to our kids, by the minute.

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