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Photo Courtesy Domingo Ayala
By Erika Sanzi
If there’s one thing that gets today’s parents upset, it is when they think that their child isn’t getting the playing time they deserve on a team. There are all sorts of reasons for this “injustice,” not the least of which is when the coach plays his own son or daughter over players that are demonstrably better by every measure. And there’s nothing wrong with thinking that what’s happening with your child is unfair; it often is. Daddy Ball is real.
Daddy Ball is the common phenomenon of when the coach — or the perception of when the coach — favors his kid over others at the detriment of the team. His kid always needs to be the star. His kid pitches the big game when there are better options.
But with so many parents fuming privately and publicly over their own son or daughter’s playing time — or lack there of— one has to at least notice the irony in their silence and even criticism when parents whose children suffer real injustices day after day decide to speak out.
When kindergarten African-American boys are suspended at a higher rate than their white classmates for the same infractions, their parents are rightly outraged. So why aren’t we?
When only 50 percent of American high schools offer calculus to their students, parents zoned to those schools have reason to be outraged. Why aren’t we?
When African-American and Hispanic students’ proficiency in 4th grade reading trails that of white students in the same city and same state by 30, 40, and even 50 points, parents have every reason in the world to be outraged. So why aren’t we?
When a Michigan court rules that students have no right to basic literacy, parents can’t help but be outraged. So why aren’t we?
Have we ever asked ourselves how we can be so convinced that the issue of playing time on a basketball team, baseball team, football team, or soccer team is so unfair and yet we barely even notice the far more odious injustices occurring just a few miles from our baseball fields and basketball courts?
Sports aren’t even compulsory. Yet students are compelled, by law, to attend school and told, by their local government, which school they can attend, based solely on their street address. Many don’t even have access to the courses they will need in order to enjoy the same opportunities as our children as they seek college acceptances, scholarship dollars, or a seat in a highly specialized technical program.
We all want what’s best for our children.
We all expect fairness. And we all want our children judged appropriately on their work ethic, skills, and talents. But it is vitally important for us to also keep in mind that the lack of fairness endured by so many fellow parents goes far beyond Daddy Ball or who played more minutes in the first half of the game. And what a force we could be if we turned some of our upset over athletic injustice into outrage over educational injustice.
Yup. We could really make a difference if we did that.
Now, for a hearty laugh, watch this.
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I am a mom, a former educator, a former school board member. I’ve worked with wealthy and poor, black and white, urban and suburban and to me the truth is quite simple: Education is a fundamental right and an issue of social justice and equality.