The Los Angeles Rams have come a long way in the four years since they returned to Los Angeles after a decades long absence. They have risen in the ranks of the NFL from a team of also rans when they arrived, to playing in the Superbowl in 2019. The Rams are a great organization on the field. Not so much in their front office.
The National Football League, (NFL), has a charity they promote called The NFL Community. It is about NFL teams giving back to their communities. The Rams have a challenge they issue to local school districts. The Rams challenge high school football teams to have a high overall grade point average. They tout that the school that wins the challenge will get a visit from The Los Angeles Rams.
This year a high school team from East Los Angeles won. The school continues to surprise detractors. In 2015 it had the Los Angeles City Champion Baseball team. This year it had the champion Volleyball team for their league. The school has a lot of amazing things they have done academically as well.
The school’s football team has a coach who has always stressed academics. So when the Rams issued the challenge, both the coach and the football team accepted it. Their overall team grade point average rose to 2.97, pretty close to a “B” average. Not only was it good for this year’s team, it was better than the previous teams by one full point, the highest previous team GPA was 1.97 (a high D average). This was based on the 10 week grades which were given out in October 2018.
Excitement built when one of the team members was chosen to be a Ram’s waterboy for one game. The anticipation of the visit from the Rams increased. All over the campus, students were wondering. Who would the Rams send? Would it be Quarterback Jerad Goff? Would it be Running Back Todd Gurley? Would it be All Pro Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald or Linebacker Cory Littleton? Could it be Rams NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson? It could be Dickerson, The Rams sent him out to give Superbowl tickets to a Rams Superfan, many of the students saw that on television.
The appointed day came one sunny March day in 2019. The anxious students crowded into the school auditorium for special assembly. The coach of the football team and team captain were honored with a seat on stage right beside the much loved and respected school Principal, a school district official, and two people from the Rams Organization, an Events Coordinator and a Public Relations (P.R.) Coordinator. The Principal gave a speech. The District Official gave a speech. The School Football Team Coach gave a speech.
Then a murmur began in the crowd of students. Who was coming from the team? Would it be a star on the current team roster or a Football Hall of Famer from the past? It wasn’t long until the students figured out that The Rams didn’t send a Star from their current roster. They didn’t send a Hall of Famer. They didn’t even send someone who played on the team. They sent the Events & P.R. Coordinators.
After the “Special” assembly the High School Football Team Members got their reward. They walked onto the stage and got to take a group photo with The Rams (Events and P.R. Coordinators). The cherished memories of that life changing event, would last about as long as it took for them to walk over to student cafeteria and the lunch that they were late for, with the other students who were duped.
The idea of challenging student athletes to do well in school is a noble one. The idea to incentivize it with a visit from members of a locally favorite NFL team is okay. Sending two guys from the front office with a message of stay in school may be doing more harm than good.
While it is true that a good education is a worthy pursuit and that education is a reward in and of itself, most children don’t realize that until after their education is over. Incentivizing scholarly endeavors is one way societies have of providing students with something tangible, a reward now to help them see that society values education and at the same time, values them.
When you choose to reward students it is important that you deliver what is promised. Not delivering on your promise cheapens the success they have achieved and devalues them as people. It’s like promising them an X-box and giving them a cardboard box with an “X” on it. It makes children feel unappreciated and jaded. It makes them less likely to believe that what they are doing is important and less likely to even try to reach a worthy goal.
Copyright 2019 Loveforce International Publishing Company.
about the writer
The Prophet of Life
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