Sunday, March 7, 2021

Would cutting football shock IL into a budget?


I read this evening in the Peoria Journal-Star Phil Luciano’s column about Illinois’s continued failure to pass a budget. Mr Luciano writes a great column in this local paper, and his writing has been a trusted source for information I’ve used many times on these pages.

He has noticed that, as Illinois has gone about nine months without a budget for this fiscal year—which is nearly over, mind you—schools are among the most outspoken critics of the government, with some saying they’re worried about being able to open in the fall. Colleges and universities have made headlines—Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois—as they consider how they can cut costs, mainly by cutting jobs, to stay open for their students.

At the Peoria District 150 board meeting this week, Mr Luciano noted people in attendance nodding in agreement when board Vice President Rick Cloyd said it would take something drastic like cutting the district’s football programs “to make the public understand” the budget issue as it hits schools. (Schools in the state have been working for several years with less than 90 percent of the money the state had promised, as the state cruelly prorated the school funding formula. But compared to this, that was small potatoes.)

It’s not easy to determine how much cutting a football program would save a school in terms of money, since programs like that include many costs, such as coach’s salaries or stipends, transportation expenses, grounds maintenance, and so on, that are absorbed into other budget areas. But the shock value alone could be worth the effort, Mr Luciano suggests.

“To start, cut just football,” he says. “Of all sports fans, football freaks are the most vocal and obnoxious. Pick on just their sport and kill football? They’d explode. Expect a ripple effect of anger and frustration. For instance, how would football players spend newfound extra time? Study? Volunteer? Get ready for their futures? That surely wouldn’t go over well.”

Of course, he’s exaggerating, and District 150 has no plans to cut anything at this point. And no one is doubting the tremendous benefits kids enjoy from participation in team sports or the wonderful ways in which high school football brings communities together. Here I join coverage in the Dayton Daily News about how the group Football Moms for the Defensive Line at Centerville High School provided a special meal for football players last fall.

But would cutting football be like using a defibrillator on the people in Springfield who are the only ones in the state who actually have the legal authority to pass a budget?

“Menfolk, no longer able to argue about whether to run the head coach out of town, would be left with little to talk about,” he proclaims. The horror.

Marching bands would join in the show, too, since their audiences would be slightly curtailed if there wasn’t a football game on Friday night. Not that all football fans stay in the stands to watch the halftime show, but many are appreciative of the band, especially given the high quality of marching band programs in the Peoria area.

First games for Illinois high school football are on August 26, less than half a year away. CLEAR!

I apologize for my absence these past few days, as I have been working on a project at my real job that required nearly 24/7 attention to get right.

In related news, an investigation by The New York Times has found that the NFL’s concussion research was far more flawed than previously known. “For the last 13 years, the NFL has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies—including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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