Thomas Jefferson was excoriated by the newspapers of his day. Still, he thought the First Amendment was so important to our democracy he said he would choose a country without government over a country without newspapers as long as everyone had access to and could read the newspapers.
Jefferson might reevaluate this premise were he alive today and be bombarded by the national television and print media, to say nothing of the flood of misinformation pervading the Internet.
Be that as it may, Jefferson’s Hobson’s Choice came to mind when I read, on the Internet, that three high schools in Texas are providing new football stadiums for a mere $180,000,000.
The first of these arenas was built five years ago in Allen, Texas at a cost of sixty million dollars. It seats 18,000 people. There are about 5,000 students. McKinney, Texas, five miles from Allen, is now building a 12,000-seat stadium for sixty-two point eight million dollars. McKinney High School has about 2,700 students. Katy High School in Houston, Texas is spending sixty-two million dollars on a 12,000-seat football stadium. Katy High School has nearly 3,000 students.
When I was an undergraduate at Indiana University, I.U. wanted to build a new basketball arena. There was such dissention between those in favor and those against that the administration named the new building “Assembly Hall” to indicate it would be available for academic events. Madison Avenue would have been proud. Can you imagine Bobby Knight’s reaction if a geology professor had wanted to pre-empt basketball practice with a lecture on global warming? Assembly Hall cost 27 million dollars. It seats about the same as the Allen High School stadium.
I grew up in Oklahoma. I know there are two religions in the Southwest: religion and football. My brothers and I played high school football. I get it. Call me reactionary but over 180 million dollars of taxpayers’ money for about 18 home football games has the feel of Through the Looking Glass to me.
I know Texans want to claim all things from stands to hands are larger in Texas. But, come on, $180,000,000 for about 18 high school football games a year means each game cost the taxpayers $10,000,000. I guess if the stadiums last a thousand years the economies of scale might justify the expense.
I pulled up the websites for all three high schools. They each have extensive facilities beyond football. To me that is not the point. The question is not do these public institutions provide scholastics along with football? The question to be considered is, how much educational return is there in the expenditure of $180,000,000 of public funds on three stadiums?
I like football. And even though I root against Texas every year in the Oklahoma vs. Texas college game, I am glad we stole Texas from Mexico. Maybe Mexico should have built a wall in 1846. Then that $180,000,000 could have been spent on soccer stadiums.