The Worship of Muscle Over Mind


Would you like to know the main reason, in my mostly humble opinion, that our nation is lagging so far behind the majority of the other industrialized nations in education? It's because we can actually find humor in a bumper sticker that says "My kid beat up your honor student". I can't imagine a more appropriate statement to explain America's now common philosophy that natural physical prowess is more admirable and to be sought after and rewarded more than mental power.

When was the last time you heard about a university professor of physics visiting a local high school student on a recruiting trip? How about anyone from a college computer department looking for young programmers? How about anyone from any department except athletics doing anything to recruit and support young minds?

Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers is paid tens of millions of dollars because he is tall and can put a round ball in a slightly larger round hoop at least 50% of the time. Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49er's is also paid millions for his ability to run around on a field and catch an oblong ball throw to him. Dennis Rodman is idolized by people who somehow admire his meager ability to grab rebounds and kick cameramen and head butt referees, all while wearing the latest fashions in dyed hair. Baseball players are paid millions for hitting the ball one out of four times. Sylvester Stallone is paid millions per picture to pretend he's a war hero but, in reality, ran off to Switzerland to teach girl's gym in order to evade the draft during the Viet Nam War.

The problem, though, is that none of these people are doing anything whatsoever to improve life as we know it. They haven't discovered a cure for a disease or taught a child to read (except in the self-serving United Way ads that pro sports loves to run during commercial breaks) or wrote a book that influenced another's life or much of anything except scurry around playing grownup versions of children's games or standing in front of a camera reading the words and grunts that someone else wrote.

Now, look at the want ads in your local paper. Openings for the LAPD are offered, starting at about $25,000 a year. These people are actually accomplishing something while truly risking their lives but at a yearly rate that equals one catch or one rebound or one movie scene for these "celebrities".

The cast of the TV comedy "Friends" actually threatened to strike unless their trifling $40,000 per show contracts were increased to $100,000 per show or more. The reason that they felt so put upon? Well, the show was successful and they had such long hours and all. I mean, getting up at 5am and working till 5 or 6pm, for crying out loud!

Of course, teachers get up about at around 6am, prepare each day's class and then spend their evenings grading papers and beginning the next day's preparations. All this for less annually than these dilettantes get per episode and they get paid to do twenty two episodes a year. Plus, the teachers are allowed the privilege of buying classroom supplies out of their own salaries, as well.

Teachers salaries nationally average approximately $30,000 a year in the first couple years of employment. These folks mold the minds and futures of our children and shape the nation's hopes for a better tomorrow, yet their pay is ridiculous compared to athletes and actors. They are also have to stomach not only the brunt of any complaints our government wants to express during elections, or whenever educational achievements are not what the politician's polls show should be expect, but serve as the object of punitive school boards whenever they try to speak out on the issues, as well.

The point to this diatribe? It's quite simple, actually. Our priorities as a nation are completely screwed up. We value that which is only entertainment but ridicule and undervalue that which is absolutely necessary to our continued existence. Actors and athletes are idolized while those children who have the minds that will shape tomorrow are denegrated as "nerds" and "do-gooders" and "egg heads". Doesn't this strike you as just a bit asinine? Would you want a basketball player to perform open heart surgery on you? Would you want an actor to do your taxes come April? Do you want anyone but the absolutely most qualified individual holding that policeman's shotgun? Then why don't you want to pay for the best in these fields but you'll pay seven dollars per person to see a bunch of people move around and recite other people's words or twenty dollars for nose bleed seats to watch someone toss a ball into a hoop?

Here is a radical idea! How about if we demand that our teachers pass very strict exams, then pay them salaries equal to their abilities? In my opinion, teacher's salaries for the very best individuals should absolutely be in the hundred thousand dollar range and at least start in the $50,000-60,000 area. So should the police and firemen and anyone else who actually provides a service to their fellow citizens. When we offer the highest possible wages we can for any service positions then we can rightfully demand that the person holding that post be the best available.

As for mere athletes, perhaps they and the owners could share whatever revenues we give to watch them play (I love that word to describe what they do). If the team sucks, no one should attend unless the prices reflect the team's ability. If the team wins, they can raise the price of tickets. When they begin losing, again, down goes the prices.

In that same vein, I also think that pro sports should be required to pay for their own stadiums, their own security, their own advertising costs, their own parking real estate while paying the same taxes as all other businesses and citizens. Pro sports are a business, not a government program that we as taxpayers should provide Welfare for. If local governments refused to go begging and bribing sport franchises to come to their areas and, instead, told them to act like any other enterprise, the teams would soon find themselves going to cities with the available fans and offering inducements to the cities to allow the teams to play. Wouldn't that be cool?

Well, you probably won't see this article in the Advocate since it's way too long. Nevertheless, I feel better for having said what I felt so I, at least, am happy. Oh, well. See ya in a while.

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