March 2015 Column


  Seventeen Banners is a phenomenal achievement. Hobbs High School has long set the standard for high school basketball in the state of New Mexico.Ralph Tasker set the benchmark that every coach tries to achieve. The Eagles’ up-tempo style of play is so unique that teams must prepare for the controlled chaos that it creates.     
Head coach Mike Smith wanted and succeeded in bringing the Taker style of basketball back to Hobbs. The coaches and players worked hard throughout the off-season and peaked at the right time to successfully bring the NMAA Blue trophy home.
 I love athletics! A good friend of mine and former superintendent of Artesia Public Schools, Mike Phipps, always said extracurricular activities are the best dropout prevention program a school can have. I agree that athletics and activities should play a major role in our public education. The United States is one of the few countries which incorporates activities into the public education sector. Most countries perform their activities outside the school day as part of “club” activities, similar to AAU type activities.
  Sports played a vital role in my life. Basketball allowed me to get a college education when my parents were unable to afford the additional costs. Because of my involvement in athletics, I have been able to visit parts of the country that would have been unavailable to me otherwise. Friendships created during my athletic career have endured decades, mainly because of the life learning successes and defeats I experienced. As President of the New Mexico Activities Association, I have first-hand knowledge of parents and athletes who misuse their privilege. Some coaches recruit athletes or violate rules, using any means possible to win.
  All this being said, I have to ponder what would happen if we placed as much emphasis on academics as we do extracurricular activities. I take nothing away from the young men who won that 17th basketball championship for Hobbs High School. But what types of celebrations have we provided for students who excel in the academic arena? Proportionally, we have very few student athletes who make sports their profession. On the other hand, HHS has had several graduates who have gone on to become successful doctors, lawyers, teachers, electricians and truck drivers who gleaned their knowledge from HHS classrooms. I hope parents spend as much time reading with their children as they do watching them play sports or participating in dance or music.
  HHS has a banquet each August celebrating the achievements of Advanced Placement students. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a parade, pep rally and acknowledgement of their major achievements? I always think back to a football game I watched being played on television where a Harvard fan held up a sign as their opponent was beating them rather soundly. “Enjoy the win today because you will be working for US tomorrow,” the sign said.
  Congratulations to the HHS basketball team on their state championship. I hope the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom will make them just as successful as our HHS academic champions.

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