I’m a great believer in athletics and the benefits that they provide young people who compete. But I am a much bigger fan of all extracurriculars.
I recognize the popularity of football, basketball, baseball, all sports – boys and girls – but more people don’t understand the importance of those other extracurricular activities as well.
Extracurriculars are like band, choir, ag, one-act plays, debate teams and much more. I believe they are most important in our schools because of the discipline that they instill in our young people. One of the problems we have in our society today is the lack of discipline.
When I was in high school in the 50s, you didn’t have to play football to get discipline. You didn’t have to be in the choir to get discipline. You didn’t have to do anything. You could go your entire life, unless you got it at home, and never face real discipline.
But then came the military and, trust me, you got disciplined at that point. You see, we had a thing back then called the draft. You had no choice. You went to the military.
Today, there is no draft. So, you can take a kid today, and if they don’t get discipline at home, and they don’t get disciplined at school, as many don’t, then they literally can live their entire young life the way they want to, either in bounds or out of bounds, and with no military either.
We have a lot of young people who learn about discipline when they have a jail cell locked behind them. I believe this is one of the problems in our society today – generations with a lack of discipline. That’s why I think extracurriculars, whether it’s football, basketball, or something you’ve never even heard of before, are essential.
I want kids to compete in them because it’s a disciplined environment. I love for young people to play sports, because I love to watch sports, but by the same token, as long as they are in an extracurricular activity, I know it’s for their own good and I believe the good of this country.
Gordon Wood and I were traveling one night together, and just to start a conversation, I said, “Coach, who has been the most influential person in your life?”
Well, I expected him to start reeling off some of the great coaches in history. But instead, he thought for a moment and said, “Dallas, the most influential man and maybe the most important man in my life was a speech teacher at Wylie High School.” I said, “Well, tell me the story.”
He said, “When I went to high school I was very bashful. I couldn’t talk in front of people. I just had all kinds of social problems, and this man came to me one day and said ‘Gordon, I want you to be on my debate team.’ I said ‘I can’t do that because I can’t talk in public. I can’t do any of those things.’ Then he said, ‘If that’s the case then I’m not going to allow you to play football.’” (All teachers had to sign off before you could play football.)
Coach said, “I was bound and determined to play football, so I finally agreed to be on the debate team.” Then he said, “I loved it. I became a part of that debate team, and we went to state.”
He said there was no way he could have been the coach he became without being on that debate team. It taught him how to have confidence, how to stand up and look people in the eye and talk to them, how to make your point and make people believe it. He said he learned more discipline from debate than he did from football and that he certainly couldn’t have succeeded without it.
And that’s why I believe extracurriculars are not only important, but essential. Support the kids who have the courage to participate. They need the discipline, and our country needs it, too.
Until next time, so long everybody.