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Take your gun to the ballgame in one of America’s foreclosure capitals

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In Florida, it’s against state law to bring a concealed weapon to a professional sporting events, even though at a Marlins game a string of automatic gunfire wouldn’t hit anybody.

However, the law doesn’t specify that you’re banned from bringing a gun to a youth sporting event, which is a bit more crowded. So the commissioners in Lee County, Fla., had no choice but to overturn such a ban, thus allowing fans to pack heat in the sort of emotional, hair-trigger environment that makes you think, “You know what this crowd needs? Armaments.” Especially in an area that’s a bit stressed out, what with its one-in-95 houses foreclosure rate being among the highest in the country, a place with a court notorious for its “rocket docket” of speeding through such foreclosures in 10 seconds or less, a place with an area, Lehigh Acres, that has become Exhibit A in how the foreclosure crisis has turned once-thriving exurbs into ghost towns.


“What was that call again, ump?”

One Lee County commissioner spoke about lobbying state legislators to change the law so youth sporting events were included in the gun ban. But, its legal hands tied, the commission voted unanimously to lift its own ban, and signs noting the ban are already coming down.

From the Naples (Fla.) News:

“I’m not against anyone’s right to bear arms nor to have a concealed weapons license, I just find it deplorable that it would be allowed at a youth sports event,” Mert Leeman, Florida’s district 9 Little League administrator.

Howard Gold, president of the South Fort Myers Little League, said the organization goes to great pains to ensure safety, such as doing background checks on coaches and safety checks on equipment.

And sometimes Gold has had to come between parents in heated arguments about calls on the field.

“I’m fortunate to say we have not had any serious situations in 10 years, but that possibility also exists,” Gold said.

No other commissioners commented on taking the issue to state legislators.

Deleting the ordinance language that restricted firearms is expected to settle a lawsuit filed by Amanda Buckley on Aug. 13.

The lawsuit was filed by Buckley’s attorney husband, who apparently had gotten tired of hearing his wife complain about the inconvenience of leaving the Glock behind when catching a kid’s ballgame. A hearing is scheduled Nov. 1 on the lawsuit, but it appears likely the case will be done now that permitted conceal-carry owners can take their gun to the ballgame. So in Lee County, Fla., you can pry houses from people’s warm, live hands, but not guns from their cold, dead ones.

Written by rkcookjr

October 26, 2010 at 10:51 pm

SI's top high school sports programs: an exercise in money

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SI.com recently released its list of the top high school sports programs in each state. They were based on results in the 2008-09 academic years, as well as interviews with athletic directors and weighing the school’s propensity to produce star athletes and nationally ranked teams. Given the financial support of the schools on the list, the results are as surprising as seeing the Yankees and Red Sox on top of the American League East.

Just like in academics, money and community support are huge in determining what is an elite athletic school, and what is not. At the scholastic level, sports is not an equalizer. It reflects the same gaps between school districts you would notice looking at standardized test scores.

Six out of the top 10 overall — including No. 1 Punahou School of Honolulu (you might have heard of one its former basketball players) — are private schools. The other four are suburban.

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Sarah Palin ain’t the only politician working who can work in a basketball metaphor. Wait, I forgot, she’s not working.

The SI.com list is broken down by top program in each state, as well as the District and Columbia. The breakdown, by category of school:

Private schools: 20. Eighteen of those were Catholic or Jesuit. The exceptions are Punahou (an indpendent private school) and John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge, La. No wonder public schools are constantly lobbying their state high school athletic associations to put some sort of multiplier on private schools so they have to move up to a larger class designation.

Suburban schools: 16. There are more than you’d might think, given the addresses such as Millard West in Omaha, Neb., Union in Tulsa, Okla., and Ben Davis in Indianapolis. But all are in suburban districts, not part of the center city schools.

Small towns schools: 6. One of them, Camden Hills Regional in Rockport, Maine, has gotten approval to become a quasi-private school, accepting foreign students at $35,000 a pop just like some of the private schools in the state.

College town schools: 2. Fayetteville, Ark. (University of Arkansas), and Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University).

Not quite small town, not quite urban, not quite suburban: 3. I’m reserving this category for Billings (Montana) West, Pocatello (Idaho) Highland and Sioux Falls (S.D.) Lincoln. They’re in cities with more than one high school, so they’re not totally small town. But they aren’t exactly gritty urban settings. But they’re their own cities, not suburbs. So I made up this category.

That leaves four schools that could qualify as urban schools: La Cueva in Albuquerque, Hillsboro in Nashville, Dimond in Anchorage, Alaska, and Muskegon, Mich.

However, La Cueva is essentially a suburban school in a city district, with its location on the northeast edge of Albuquerque, the wealthiest portion of a city with few suburbs. Hillsboro is an urban school, but it also is home to one of Nashville’s International Baccalaureate programs, making it a regular in Newsweek’s annual top 1,500 high schools list. Dimond, on its Wikipedia page, has someone bragging it has the greatest alumni support of any high school in Alaska.

So it’s not that those schools are not urban. It’s just that each has circumstances that give it financial and community support beyond what most urban schools receive.

That leaves Muskegon, Mich.

Muskegon doesn’t seem like much of an urban area, not with a population of 39,ooo (and falling). However, as one of the many examples of Michigan manufacturing centers whose jobs have gone elsewhere, the city’s demographics mirror those of many urban schools: a 40 percent minority population, and about 30 percent of its children below the poverty line.

So how do its programs stand out while other urban schools suffer? Well, it probably helps that it’s the only high school in the city, so it can receive all of the community’s focus. It also helps that Muskegon, since the 1920s, has been a consistent football power in Michigan, so there is a standard to uphold for sports. Some might also argue that the sports can remain strong because all you need to do to play is pass, barely, two-thirds of your classes.

Still, Muskegon might be the best model worth studying for anyone trying to keep urban school sports thriving. If SI.com’s list is indicative, it’s the only model out there.

Written by rkcookjr

July 9, 2009 at 12:14 am

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