SP School Board on football

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 18, 2012

SP trustees push back over call for more football time

By Rupert Howell

A lively discussion followed a visit to South Panola’s School board by representatives of the South Panola Athletic Foundation at Tuesday night’s monthly board meeting.

Foundation president Kenny Hopper began the discussion by thanking trustees for overturning a decision last month that would have eliminated a dual athletic period at South Panola High School.

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The current dual class period allows a full class period devoted to practice as opposed to time spent by athletes in the dressing room before and after practice as well as time spent traveling from school to field during spring and fall practice when practice times are limited.  

Trustees were informed of the administrative action during the April meeting when Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer said, “These are hard decisions to make and some are unpopular … If we had all Star Schools, we could enjoy these luxuries.”

Hopper was accompanied by fellow foundation member Steve Wingert, who is also color commentator for South Panola’s football broadcasts.

Hopper said the foundation encourages that any athlete not making their grades be pulled from the dual class period but stated, “Don’t punish the whole team.”

Trustee Jerry Cooley asked, “Since we yielded, when can we expect a report on the football team’s (academic) progress?”

One trustee asked, “Are we bending the rules for our athletes?”

Shaffer explained to his board that the school follows the Mississippi High School Athletic Association’s guidelines which covers athletes, band, choir, cheerleaders and other sanctioned activities.

“It’s out in this community they (football players) are not make grades,” Cooley said, adding “I’m concerned about academics.”

Board President Sandra Darby joined Cooley stating, “I’m in agreement.”

Trustee Kim Nix joined Cooley and Darby giving a personal example of her son skipping college to play professional baseball. “He’s missed an opportunity,” she said.

“We owe them,” Cooley said, “I’m not against athletes, I’m against top athletes not performing to the level they need to be.”

Hopper, a former SP athlete and serious student noted, “We (SPAF) think sports is important to our community.”

Toward the end of the conversation Shaffer surmised that the entire conversation came about by his recommendation.

“Since then my recommendation has traveled through a world of correction.  I’m a grown man under contract with five people. I now have assurances from coaches and teachers that when a child is in trouble, action will be taken.”