Overcrowded classrooms, crumbling schools, and low-income and crime infested neighborhoods, are just some of the many obstacles inner-city students must overcome to be successful. So, it’s unfortunate and sad for inner-city student-athletes to have their disadvantaged status “rubbed in their face” by being forced into unwinnable “David v. Goliath” match-ups versus teams with vastly superior numbers, resources, and coaches. as occurred last week in Texas when suburban powerhouse Aledo beat inner-city Fort Worth Western Hills 91-0 at home. Now of course I would never tell a team that there is no chance for them to win despite the odds and yes there is always an opportunity for an upset. Further, I strongly believe one of the most important duties a coach has is to find ways to motivate and empower your players to believe that they can succeed despite the odds, obstacles, and hurdles–on and off the field. However, enough of these unfair and humiliating match-ups already! It is time to mandate the scheduling of high school teams of equal size, resources, and ability.
Even before reading about the embarrassing Western Hills score this weekend. I had already decided to advocate against super- rich suburban schools from playing football games against overmatched inner-city teams after watching Tulsa Edison play defending large school Oklahoma State Champions Jenks 41-14. As I watched the game, it became readily apparent that Edison was – like most inner-city schools nationwide — grossly “out gunned” by the suburban powerhouse, Jenks. For example, check out these startling comparisons between the two schools:
1. While Edison only has roughly 50 players, which requires that the vast majority of Edison’s starters must play offense, defense, and all special teams, Jenks has 100+ players with the vast majority of their starters playing one way;
2. While Edison has 7 coaches total, Jenks has 16 coaches, including an unheard-of -3 special teams coaches;
3. While Edison’s head coach makes the standard TPS coaching stipend of $6,006.00 and he is required to teach full-time as of 2009 Jenks legendary head coach, Allen Trimble, received a total compensation of 100k+ and he is not required to teach; and
4. While Edison has decent high school facilities, they share their home stadium with other Tulsa Public Schools. At the same time, Jenks has facilities and a stadium that would put some D1 colleges to shame, and even has a full-time Strength and Conditioning staff!
To be clear, affluent suburban school districts, like Jenks, should be applauded for making the decision to give its student the very best money can buy. I just wish every student, regardless of zip code, had the very same opportunities, resources, and support to ensure their success. Until then the least we can do is prevent inner-city student-athletes from being humiliated and virtually gang-tackled just because of where they live.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, Esq., M.Ed., is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonsSharrock & Associates law firm and a football letter winner at the University of Oklahoma. He can be contacted on twitter @solospeakstruth or firstname.lastname@example.org.