Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taking one for the team

It’s what thousand of youth across the country look forward to each year: A chance to represent his or her high school playing his or her favorite sport.

And why not … thanks to state budget cuts that have gone on for years, eliminating or reducing elective classes like art and music, there isn’t a whole lot, besides academics, to stimulate one’s mind.

But now, the opportunity to play sports – for fun or as a steppingstone to a college career – may be taken away from youth who attend one of the 11 schools in the East Side Union High School District. Earlier this week, Bob Nuñez, superintendent of the San Jose, Calif., district, proposed a cut to athletic programs to balance his budget. The school adopted the interim plan, which, if approved as part of the final budget in June, would cut spending by $11.4 million – $2.1 million from the various sports programs.

I understand it is a tough call for schools that are trying to figure out how best to trim their budgets. But taking something so vital from so many youth is ludicrous, not to mention would be detrimental to their futures.

Being true-blue team players, the San Jose Earthquakes – the local professional soccer team – and Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics have stepped up to the plate to work with the district to prevent the elimination of the sports programs.

Times are tough. Businesses are laying off workers left and right. But when looking to corporate spending in the upcoming weeks – sure to include a host of holiday festivities – and the future, corporate America can learn a little from these two professional sports teams about playing a game in which everyone will win.

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