Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wealthy school districts and winning

High school football teams from wealthy communities are dominating state championships in Oregon. In a three-part series, Rachel Bachman, a sharp enterprise reporter for the (Portland) Oregonian, is explaining why. In no particular order, she points to expensive artificial-turf fields, more assistant coaches, full-time trainers, better training gear.

Bachman writes, "Measure 5, the statewide property-tax cap that voters passed in 1990, slashed extracurricular spending by an inflation-adjusted average of 30 percent in 10 school districts with prominent football teams. Wealthier communities are better equipped to fill the gap, especially in the flagship sport of football, and supplement athletes' preparation with extra coaches and personal trainers."

This is not only a football problem. Or a high-school problem. The same issues apply all the way down to neighborhood youth leagues. Some families start early with private lessons, summer camps, high-tech equipment. Others can't afford that. As I've said elsewhere, I'm in no position to judge the spare-no-expense parents. My sons - at the insistence of their father - always had the flashiest baseball bats in the rack.

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