If you live in the southeast its God, Country, Family and Football—not always in that order!  Football is “KING”.  On any one given Saturday, the twelve teams of the Southeastern Conference ( SEC ) will host at least 75,000 screaming fans for the weekend ritual.  My school, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, will seat 104,000 orange-clad fanatics week after week and the stands are absolutely full.  The very same is true for Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, etc etc.  You get the picture.   There are several very interesting facts relative to the SEC football “machine”.  Take a look:

  • The SEC has produced four (4 ) straight BCS national championship teams.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics data base, six (6) of the nation’s top nine (9) producers of gross football revenue reside in the SEC. ( Texas and Ohio State are number one and two respectively. )
  • The SEC has five (5) of the top ten (10) net football revenue producing organizations.
  • 80 to 85 percent of the revenue for any SEC school is produced by the football program. ( Men’s basketball contributes the remainder. )
  • In the SEC, seven (7) of nine (9) league stadiums will hold at least 80,000 people.
  • Multimillion dollar amounts of money are spent annually on stadium additions and renovations.  UT Knoxville is spending $200 million on renovations this year—adding additional corporate sky boxes and a gourmet restaurant. ( I think gourmet might be stretching it a bit .  Can you say chicken wings??????)

SEC football is big ( very big ) business.  Any wonder that the University of Alabama can afford to pay Nick Saban and annual salary of $4 ++++ million dollars?  Then again, Mr. Saban took Alabama to a national championship last year.  Maybe he should run for public office.  UT has a new head coach; we only pay him $1.2 million.  I know for a fact that one of our former graduates; i.e. Mr. John ( Thunder ) Thornton paid a cool $1.00 million just to run through the “T” prior to the game.  With the economy being such as it is, I wonder if John would like to have some of that money back.  He is in commercial real estate.   

One of the most fascinating books I have ever read was “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire”.  I think we can draw several very interesting parallels between Rome and the United States.  Let’s take a look:

  • The Roman government definitely deployed too many troops in far too many distant lands.  The cost for doing so was tremendous.  Rome conquered great portions of the known world and felt the need to protect what they had conquered from encroaching forces.
  • The corruption in government was tremendous.  Senators and petty politicians on the take pressing every advantage.
  • A huge immigrant population that needed protection, work, housing etc etc. which Rome was happy to supply because they provided a cheap labor force.
  • The citizens of Rome loved their games.  LOVED THEIR GAMES!  They became the reason for living.  ( This is where the SEC and football comes in.) I will say that soccer (football ) in the remainder of the world is equal to football in this country relative to passion.

Our kids can’t read beyond fifth grade level but we did go to the game on Saturday.   Where are our priorities?  With this in mind, I have several changes I would like to make to our educational system below the college level.  These are as follows:

  • Let’s initiate Saturday classes, at least until noon. 
  • A complete emphasis on “reading, writing and arithmetic” until a child reaches secondary school.  Absolutely no JUNK courses!!!  Then we add a few electives.
  • Let’s evaluate a school based upon education and not the success of their  athletic program.
  • All children in grammar school MUST take Latin, at least two years.
  • All children in high school must have four years of a foreign language and must show proficiency in that language prior to graduation.
  • All high school children MUST, for one summer session, travel abroad to a non-English speaking country.
  • All middle school student MUST have a basic understanding of the Periodic Table of Elements and why they are so important.
  • All high school students MUST ( at least ) know the great men and women of science and how they contributed to society in general.
  • All graduating high school students MUST understand how our great country came to be and those men and women who fought so bravely to establish our nation.
  • All students MUST take physical education EACH year of their attendance for grammar, middle and high school.  These exercises WILL produce sweat——-NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • All students must master a musical instrument.
  • All high school students MUST have a least one course in art history.
  • All students MUST have at least one course in ancient history.
  • All students MUST master the very basics of mathematics and mathematical theory.
  • All graduating seniors WIll know a trade; i.e roofing, plumbing, carpentry, etc etc.  In other words, be prepared for eventualities.
  • All graduating students WILL understand the very basics of finance and be able to write a check and balance a check book.
  • All graduating students will have a basic understanding of the various stock markets of the world.

I could go on for a couple of days but you get the picture.  We are spending entirely too much time watching TV, Tweeting, sending text messages,  etc etc.  We are losing the battle.  We are losing the battle.  We NEED to wake up.

Any and all comments are gladly appreciated.

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