Here’s Your Sign

Well, we almost made it through February without any real local debate. Maybe that was just too much to ask. After all, we have mostly been house bound for weeks on end, due to rain, and that affords the masses a little too much time to find something to be upset about. This time, if you can believe it or not, the dust up is about the patriot football symbol that has been painted in the middle of the football field for several years. While this is not the first logo for the Jefferson County Patriots, it is the most recent to decorate the field, and, apparently, some in Jefferson County have an unusual connection with the squatting patriot. What strikes me as odd is that some of the very same people that appear to be the most upset at the thought of a replacement logo that is more representative of the student body as a whole, rather than just the football team, are the very people that lobbied the hardest for the placement of turf on the field.

When the Director of Schools and the Jefferson County School Board were approached earlier this school year about serious inequities in facilities for sports (namely the girl’s soccer team and the softball team), it became clear that the school was in danger of title IX violations. Practice conditions were shameful for the girls’ soccer team, and the softball field had degraded to being downright dangerous. After much consideration, a comprehensive plan was put in place that would answer needed upgrades for many sports, but that would necessitate the use of the current football field for various sports, making it a multi-sport field. The consensus was that the field would survive better with turf, thus making everyone happy. Football gets the turf they lobbied for, soccer men and women have a decent place to practice and play, and the track team can, once again, host home meets safely. This was a win-win and most seemed happy. Sure, there were some compromises, but it was still a win.

Who would have ever thought that a group of people would have a problem with changing the logo that will enhance the field? Not only that, some have a problem with calling it a multi-sport field. Go figure. One of the main concerns of the Board was that all teams are equally represented in the nearly two million dollar upgrades. Some Board Members feared that sports other than football might get pushed back for field time, but they were assured by the team coaches, including football, that everyone could work together for the betterment of all the student athletes. So, now, a group of people, mostly remembering the patriots of the past when football reigned king in Jefferson County, are pushing to keep a football logo on a multi-sports field. Woops. No, they want a football logo on a football field. We no longer have a football field in Jefferson County. We have a multi-sports field that provides playing space for men’s soccer, women’s soccer, track and field and band, as well as football. More sports and activities will be played on that field than there will be football games, and it needs to be representative of all the students, not just a few. Besides, and this is a major concern, logos change (even this one) and turf is expensive. We need a logo for our new turf that will not have to be changed because it has to last the life of the turf. I am pretty sure that a squatting football patriot is not representative of any female sport and, believe it or not, that matters.

Hey, I love football and Friday night lights as much as the next person. Thirty years ago, I was in the stands every night cheering on the home team. But, times change. If you want to raise your voice in concern for something at JCHS, make it something that counts. We reported recently that Jefferson County High School has an academic achievement score of 1.6 out of 4, meaning it has a D in academics. That is something to really be concerned about, but no one approached the School Board about the below-par academics at the high school. We also reported that the school climate (meaning the outlook of the student body) was a 1.3 out of 4, which is also a dismal D. Two really good reasons to approach the School Board with concern. We need to get our priorities straight in Jefferson County. Some things simply are not important and some things are of the up most importance. Grown ups should know the difference.

So, here it is in a nutshell. Expensive turf is on the way, and with it will come a new logo that more evenly represents the upgrades to the field. We bought the Cadillac but we just aren’t keeping the 1980’s vanity tags. Seems like a more than fair trade. It would be nice to see such an outcry about the quality of education for our students as we have had for a logo that has seen its better days. Priorities, people. Priorities.