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Old School Move A Good One

A scant two weeks ago in this space it was noted that a school board meeting is hardly a place for fodder for a sports column, so you might have known this, or another, piece would soon be forthcoming.

Last Tuesday’s rather mundane meeting that included a plethora of handbook change approvals included the athletic department’s handbook.

High school principal Michael Johnson said the only significant change to the handbook was a revision in the way letters are awarded.

Specifically, Johnson said the school is going, well, old school.

Great move.

Johnson told the board he may be asking for headaches, and he very well may get a couple, but he isn’t exactly going way out on the limb here because the move was favored by a majority the school’s coaches.

Of course being an BHS alum himself, and fairly accessible to many other alums, Johnson said he has also heard about the now former policy from some who think a letter ought to mean more about sports than economics — the ability to supply whatever amount the manufacturers are demanding for a jacket these days.

“Three years ago we removed the criteria for lettering, because we (as a school district) quit buying the jackets,” Johnson said.

That may have seemed logical at the time, but in reality it did steal a lot of the meaning of the letter.

I wish the school could still purchase the jackets because — most likely there will be those who earn a letter but won’t be able to wear it — but economics has made that impossible.

Johnson said the respective coaches will keep up with the participation requirements for the letter award, Johnson said. Having been along a sideline for many of the last 30 years, I can assure you they are not the only ones. Most kids know if they have their required quarters for a given game.

Johnson said going old school may mean Booneville is the only one in the immediate area to be awarding letters as they did back in the day, but that is a-okay, or B-okay in this instance I guess.

The automatic qualification from the old policy will remain in force Johnson said. What that means is a kid who sticks with football or any other sport in seventh, eighth and ninth grades will automatically earn a letter — it’s the same with sophomore, junior and senior years.

That, too is a great move. Some kids, try as they might, are never going to play very much. For the most part they know it and the letter jacket at the end of their freshman or senior years has been the carrot that keeps some going.

You probably knew this was coming but the sport itself is only part of the benefit a student-athlete receives. It sounds cliche, I know, but the teamwork, working through adversity and other life skills will actually pay huge dividends for society in the long run.

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