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Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee

High school sports for fun and academic credit

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In Cheatham County, Tenn., a little west of Nasvhille, there are some upset parents now that the school board, on March 1, voted to end the practice of allowing school sports teams to practice during the actual school day, rather than after school. Two of the district’s high schools had done this because of a lack of gym space. But the school board said it needed fourth period back because Tennessee has increased its academic requirements for graduation, and the personnel and students are needed to, you know, teach and study.

This did not go over well with everyone. From the Ashland City (Tenn.) Times:

During Saturday’s community meeting, parents said the athletic practice changes would penalize the basketball players, many of whom are already top academic achievers.

One parent said it appears that the school board is anti-sports and “it is coming through loud and clear.”

Parents believe basketball is being singled out because band can continue to practice during the school day and receive academic credit for the class.

As ridiculous as it might seem for a parent to call any school board “anti-sports” (I’ve never met a school board that fits that description), the sports parents do have a point: why do band kids, presumably in an extracurricular activity, get school credit, why the basketball kids don’t?

Well, sports parents, I’ve looked it up, and it’s because you live in the wrong state. Tennessee, despite bumping up its physical education/health requirements from one out of 20 high school credits to 1.5 out of 22, does not allow athletics or marching band or dance or any other physical activity to be used as a credit-earning substitute.

Your kids would get that exception if they lived in Michigan. Or Chicago. Or, most definitely, Texas, which for the class entering 2010-11 allowed athletics (and marching band) to substitute for four out of five elective credits, up from two.

In many cases, the students getting the credit for those activities might be able to hit the weight or practice room while the other PE class is happening. That’s not an all-bad thing. You wonder if there are kids who are getting more out of PE class because Moose isn’t in the way, hogging the ball and the glory and beating the snot out of nerds. In many cases, the kids out of PE for sports purposes may — gasp — get to take another, perhaps more valuable class.

Cheatham County parents, if you want you kids to get academic credit for their athletic activities, you state allows only one venue: Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. In my cursory view, it looks like there is a military substitute for PE pretty much everywhere.

If it’s any consolation, Cheatam County parents, the new academic requirements will include a half-credit for a personal finance class. So if they can get in a gym long enough for a burgeoning pro career, they won’t go the monetary way of Antoine Walker.

Fights in the stands mar high school basketball games: Title IX edition

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Earlier I wrote a story about all the fights that have been happening at high school basketball games, and all the examples I cited were from boys’ matchups. But let it not be said boys games have exclusive domain over fisticuffs and brouhahas. From WSMV television in Nashville:

Principals at Maplewood and Stratford high schools — along with several teachers, coaches and students — face sanctions from the district and TSSAA [Tennessee’s high school athletic authority] for a Saturday night [Feb. 13] melee.

Did I say brouhahas? I meant melees.

At the end of a girls basketball game, a Stratford player made a last-second shot. Maplewood’s coaches claimed the clock was not on and the shot should not have counted.

Maplewood coaches confronted time keepers because they lost the game, said Ralph Thompson, security director of Metro Schools. He said things got out of control, and students and parents got involved and threw punches.

“People started yelling, standing up and coming toward the score keeper and referees,” said student Janelle White. “The girl from Maplewood came up to the score keeper and hit her.”

An estimated 100 people were involved in the fight. Thompson said his office is trying to get to the bottom of reports that several coaches and teachers also threw punches.

Germaine to the point school security expert Kent Trump made (unbeknownst to him) in my previous post on one of the problems regarding fan violence at basketball games, one of the allegations against host Stratford is that it provided inadequate security for the game. As the home school, it was responsible for making those arrangements — normally, four to six security officers, rather than the apparent zero that were there.

Written by rkcookjr

February 17, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Guns in parks: Why?

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When I go to the park, I take a water bottle, maybe a wagon for the younger kids, some snacks, perhaps light jackets in case there’s a chill in the air. On another planet, there are people who are beside themselves that they can’t bring their guns.

I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t get it. I don’t consider myself crazy anti-gun. I don’t own a gun, probably never will, but that’s not out of any anti-Second Amendment principle. It’s because I have no more interest in owning a gun than I do an expanded special edition of Reese Witherspoon in “Sweet Home Alabama.” I just don’t find it useful to my interests, unless I’m forced to watch “Sweet Home Alabama,” at which time I might want a gun to go all Elvis on the TV.

And I’m certainly not sure why people feel so scared of their shadows that when they go for a nice stroll, or they go to watch their kid’s ballgame, they need to pack heat or their hearts palpitate nervously like me when I show up to a ballgame without a Starbucks grande americano with two Sweet-n-Lows and skim milk.

Indianapolis is the latest place where someone is proposing that people with permits be allowed to pack heat in public parks. That someone is a Libertarian who, philosophically, figures our Second Amendment rights extend to having a Glock in your pocket while you push your child on the swings.

3200979329_634514a42dKid, that swing is taken, if you catch my drift.

In some way, I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. What I don’t get is the reaction of Republican council member Ryan Vaughn, quoted in the Indianapolis Star:

“For the sake of consistency, I think there’s merit in it,” Vaughn said. “You could have citizens who don’t know what kind of park they’re in.”

Don’t know what kind of park they’re in? What is THAT supposed to mean? I don’t know if Vaughn has a racist bone in his body, but it sounds to me like my fellow white man wants his constituents protected in case they somehow stumble across Scary Black Park. (If Vaughn introduces an ordinance to change the names of parks to reflect their racial makeup and crime status, then we’ll know.) The only other way I could see citizens not knowing what kind of park they’re in is if they travel there wrapped inside a sack and then get dumped off the back of a truck.

Fortunately, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican and ex-Marine who presumably knows how to handle a gun, unlike most of the numbnuts who would pack heat at the park, said he would veto allowing guns in the parks, given that in three years in office, by his reckoning, exactly zero people have brought up this issue with him.

Still, that’s not likely to stop pro-gun types, not with victories such as the upcoming lifting of the gun ban in national parks, set to take effect Feb. 22. (It won’t be all Wild West — the park will enforce whatever local gun laws are in place.) Plus, you still have the push-pull in Tennessee, where it became legal to carry in public parks, unless local governments passed a law saying otherwise — and some have.

It doesn’t help the case when you have oddballs like the guy in Seattle who protested his city’s new ban on guns in the parks by taking a pistol to a dog show. You know, just in case a shih-tzu looked at him cross-eyed. (Technically, the guy is right — a Washington state law passed in 1983 prevents any locality from passing such a gun ban, and there are lawsuits against the city declaring just that. But still.) Or tragic cases like the mom in Pennsylvania who created a cause celebre by openly carrying a weapon at her kid’s soccer game — and then ended up dead by her husband’s hand in a murder-suicide.

The only person I know and would trust taking a gun to a park for a Sunday walk or a kid’s ballgame is a friend of mine who happens to be an ex-Marine and a Secret Service agent. At least I know he’s trained to be alert for danger and would know how to discharge his weapon without wiping out the opposing team’s parents. Otherwise, it just seems like overkill, no pun intended, for people to bring guns along. If you’re feeling tense and nervous at the ballpark, I would recommend a strong cup of coffee instead.

Pistol-packin' mamas are going to be just mamas at some Tennessee games

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Before you bring your big-ass gun to a youth sports event in Tennessee, you’d better check with the local constabulary first. That’s because some Tennessee localities are already taking advantage of a loophole in a law, effective Sept. 1, that allows handgun permit owners to carry guns into any public park.

3200979329_634514a42d1Hold your fire.

For example, despite expressing love for the Second Amendment, the Williamson County Commission (that’s the county immediately to the east of Nashville) voted 24-to-nil Monday to ban guns in county parks. However, it also voted 18-to-6 to allow its opt-out to expire in May 2010, in order to figure out whether school teams are allowed to use parks where guns are OK. In Tennessee, guns are not allowed in schools (which are getting to be among the few places where they’re not.)

Meanwhile, the Williamson County seat of Murfreesboro itself opted out of the gun ban. As Williamson County did, Murfreesboro made the point that its vote, taken last Thursday, had nothing to do with how much everyone loves guns. However, Murfreesboro is the site of the annual Spring Fling, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s five-sports-at-once state championships. The Murfreesboro vote came one day after the TSSAA said it backed down enforcing its own Spring Fling gun ban on advice of counsel. I’m going to take a not-so-wild guess that Murfreesboro was afraid it would lose the lucrative event to a less trigger-happy town.

Among the other municipalities on the don’t-shoot list: Clarksville, the hometown for Fort Campbell, and Bristol, home of a NASCAR race. Many other cities and counties are still debating the issue, and some might be passing bans while I type. One city that had a proposed ban on the agenda Tuesday night was Dandridge, where three people were fatally shot (one of the dead was the shooter) at a youth baseball game.  However, opponents of the ban might say, with some justification, that it wouldn’t have prevented that 2006 incident, which evolved from a domestic dispute. Meanwhile, other cities are tabling measures or outright rejecting bans.

The best back-and-forth exchange I’ve seen on opting out of the Tennessee law comes from the comments section of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. (Of course, all comments are presented as raw as they were typed. How am I supposed to copy edit them?). From a person who presumably wants guns allowed:

I’m a father of two daughters, ocassionally we’ve tried to enjoy riding our bicycles together on the greenway trails, these trails are considered to be city or county parks. However, in the past, I have felt very uncomfortable riding these trails because of the transient and homeless individuals, often appearing impaired by drugs and/or alcohol, that seems to frequent some areas of these trails. Allowing people with handgun carry permits, (citizens who’s backgrounds have been throughly checked by the FBI, TBI and Sheriff and found to have no history of felonies, domestic violence or mental illness), to go armed in those parks would give me comfort when recreating on the greenways. Because opting out of the law will not stop those who illegally carry weapons with intent to prey on or harm knowingly unarmed, law-abiding individuals. I want the right to defend myself and my daughters if some drug-crazed person pulls out an illegal weapon and threatens to do us harm.

A response. I’m sensing this is sarcasm:

On certain Saturdays in the fall, I like to take my kids down to the riverwalk and there are thousands of people clad totally in orange. Huddling in groups around massive mounds of food and coolers, their loud and disturbing rituals pierce the afternoon air as we try to ride our bikes. I have felt very uncomfortable sometimes when groups of men will shout and stare at me and my kids, often appearing impaired by alcohol and excessive amounts of fatty foods. After several hours, their eyes are glazed over, their guts are hanging out over their trousers, and usually we are scared by men who jump out of bushes after relieving themselves….or worse. All I know is, I would feel a lot safer if the city of Knoxville would allow he to execute my HCP to the fullest extent. I’ve been welding this rack to my handlebars that would enable me to mount two pistols and not have to worry about losing control of the bike. I want the right to defend my kids if some booze-soaked pumpkin face tries to do something. All we’re guilty of is wearing these really pretty maroon sweaters that my mother-in-law knit for us last year. Please, Knox Countians, take back your parks!!!

Written by rkcookjr

July 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Take your gun to the ballgame

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Given all the tempers that flare during youth sports events, maybe having everyone leave their guns at home might be a good idea, yes?

That’s what the Tennessee Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association thought when it requested a ban on guns at its Spring Fling, an Olympic-style festival involving all five spring sports tournaments. It announced it would ban guns from state and local parks where events would be held, even though on Sept. 1 a law goes into effect saying that people can bring their (legally registered) gun to any damn state and local park they please, unless the local municipality pussies out, er, passes its own firearms restrictions.

The association backed down on its ban, saying its lawyers have told it not to make a stand. It’s always great when lawyers advise us not to do what’s right. Well, I’m sure some gun owners called the association offices with some not-too-kind words, either.

So if you’re going to a youth sporting event in Tennessee, I would advise you to watch who you’re arguing with. Or bring a really big-ass gun.


Written by rkcookjr

July 9, 2009 at 12:32 am

Posted in Sports

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