View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 9/14

Dion Clisso/PrepsKC

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: September 14, 2012 - 1:29 PM

Every year in college football you hear the term “arms race.” That term is used to describe the steps football programs take to be competitive.
Whether it is a new practice facility, weight room, stadium additions or just the uniforms, every college team that is trying to win gets caught up in the “arms race.” High school football in the Metro hasn’t reached that point but those days are coming.
A few weeks ago Rockhurst, arguably the most storied program in the Metro traveled to Bentonville, Ark., to play in a stadium that sat 20,000 that sits right next to an indoor practice facility. This wasn’t at some local college this was all at Bentonville High School.
The arms race has made its way from Texas to Northwest Arkansas and don’t think it isn’t coming here. You see new turf and stadium additions all over the Metro. Weight rooms get bigger and better each year and schools are always looking for the next big thing to put their program over the top.
That’s fine with me. When you see a school commit to its athletic programs with funding and personnel there are benefits for students that go beyond the football field. When there is a commitment to success in sports schools see an increase in community involvement along with increased opportunities for college for at risk students and those from solid homes.
The studies show that students involved in extra curricular activities do better in school and are more likely to finish high school and go on to college. That’s basic and easy to prove and I’m not just talking about football.
At the same time we see schools committing to football and other sports, we also see the dark side of that commitment. There are schools who claim to be committed but when push comes to shove they don’t put the money or support behind the programs.
It’s easy to find out which schools are doing what it takes. Grab a roster and look at the number of assistant coaches. In some leagues where schools are grouped by size you will see teams with 16 assistant coaches taking on teams with six or seven assistant coaches.
Do the math on that for a minute. What advantages does the team with 16 assistant coaches have over the other team? More bodies on the staff means more bodies to teach, nurture and lead young men. It’s the same thing with class sizes in the building as it is with a football team on the field.
Beware of the schools that talk about wanting to win and having sports as an important part of developing young people without showing the commitment in personnel and dollars it takes to do so. Those are the same schools that seem to change head coaches every two or three years and never see consistent success.
The “arms race” is here and there is nothing wrong with that as long as the people in the central office are making this a fair fight for everyone.