What $60 Million Crazy Gets You

In a discussion on Twitter I recently had, this stadium came up. That’s a high school football stadium worth an astonishing $60 million. It surprised me. Of course, I wasn’t alone in being surprised, because $60,000,000 is a lot of money. It may have surprised me even more, however, because I am not used to the combination of high schools and sport. In fact, I always thought that high school stadiums were build by volunteers who just happened to have a few bored Saturdays and devoted the attention they normally spent on fixing their truck to build a few stands and have a beer afterwards. Apparently, I need to alter my image.

Also, nobody ever came to watch any of my games. Well done, high schools. Thanks to Burril Strong for using the picture (click it!)

As I said, I am unfamiliar with the idea of high school sports. I played team handball throughout the time I was in high school , but that had nothing to do with the school I was on. There was no curriculum concerning sports outside school hours or any organized team sport connected to school. How different is this situation from American schools. It seems as if everyone I meet has played at least one sport during their school times and people take it quite seriously. It’s one of the things that seem to shape one’s future, up to the point where they pay for college having played a sport. That’s serious sports. Some people even take it $60 million seriously. It seems like a lot of money, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned ever since I have been visiting Missouri, it’s how Americans get absolutely crazy when it comes to sports.

What sport did you play in school?

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23 thoughts on “What $60 Million Crazy Gets You

  1. I lettered in middle school track, when I was about 13. I got six place in the discus. Someone showed me this stadium a few weeks ago. Don’t worry, I think it’s completely crazy too.

  2. Yep, sports is BIG in North America, especially the U.S. Don’t forget from highschool sports a good player can earn a scholarship to college sports etc. This makes the whole thing serious. Then the teams look for their next big player etc.

    I’m not a sports-minded person so cannot do this subject justice but that’s how I understand it.

  3. I didn’t play any sports THROUGH the school but I did play a lot of softball growing up…either through church or the local ball club. Now, I play soccer…never played in a $60,000,000.00 stadium though… 🙂

  4. High school sports do seem to be an American phenomenon. They’re well-entrenched and typically well-supported — they’re simply a part of the educational experience just like music and theater are, and in more enthusiastic towns (often but not always smaller towns), football or basketball games are major community events. I live in a town of about 5,000 people, and it’s not uncommon to get a crowd of 3,000-4,000 to a big football game. (That including visiting fans, so it’s not actually 60-80% of the town. Still a lot, though.)

    It’s worth noting that the $60m stadium is a RIDICULOUS outlier. In most places, high school sports facilities are much more reasonable.

    This probably won’t come as a surprise, but…I’m a proponent of high school sports. It’s important to keep them in perspective, but when it comes to the educational experience, I firmly believe they’re every bit as beneficial as things like music. I’m not saying the rest of the world needs high school sports — I’m just saying they do actually serve a worthwhile purpose in American culture, even though some folks go overboard with them.

    • OH — one more note, then I’ll stop flooding this with comments. I promise.

      In re: to funding these projects: the money typically is approved by local voters. The district will put the issue on the ballot (we would like to collect x number of dollars for z purpose, Y or N?) and if it passes, there you go. As I understand it, a proposal on the ballot would ask for money for capital improvements, and while the projects aren’t specified on the ballot, districts tend to be pretty open about what they want to use the money for, be it an expansion of an elementary school or a renovation of the stadium (both of which have happened here in my town in the past decade). Money approved for capital improvements can’t be used for regular operations — in other words, if the voters give them the money, they can use it to build or renovate, but they can’t hire anyone or buy iPads for classrooms or whatever.

      So…in almost every case, when absurd projects like the $60m stadium happen, you can blame at least 50.1% of the voters (who bothered to vote, anyway).

      • HA. Not a bad question. I think most of the RAGE over government spending is directed at the federal government, not local governments. Since voters get a direct Y/N voice in funding local projects like school facilities, it’s difficult to feel left out of a major fiscal decision like that. I think people tend to feel much more disconnected from decisions made at the federal level.

    • I can see how 3,000 showing up for a game would have great benefits for a small community. There’s something quite romantic in how you describe it. My only experience with small towns is, please don’t laugh, watching Gilmore Girls, so note how that would be my reference. Also, I think sports can be a major factor in helping fight obesity and must thus be valuable.

      • I don’t want to over-romanticize it — most high school sporting events attract mostly just parents and a few friends. But there can be benefits not just in the physical activity, but also in the formation of habits and character. A good coach can be every bit as influential as a good teacher, and some kids will respond better in that setting simply because that’s how they’re wired. It costs money to offer sports, but most people here will tell you it’s worth it to provide that sort of influence under the authority of the school district.

        And hey, when you make it back to Michigan, be sure to make a visit to Chelsea to get a good small-town experience!

  5. In a school where I worked for a while in the RIo Grande Valley, the superintendent even got the special ed teacher to leave right after the school inspectors had been one week into the school year, and then didn’t replace her all year. That money saved went toward… you guessed it–a brand new football stadium in the region’s poorest school district.

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