EDUCATION MATTERS: The problem with the Chargers

By Marsha Sutton


The Chargers lost The Big Game. Devoted fans are crushed, despondent and bewildered. How could it happen, they ask?

How come people care so much, I ask?

Two weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I opened up my San Diego Union-Tribune as always, and prepared to read the newspaper cover to cover in less time than the previous week. It's getting harder and harder to linger over the paper with my morning coffee.

The thinning of the local daily newspaper is old news. But what struck me that morning was the disparity in the length of each of the five sections. The Front Page section was eight pages, the Local section was six pages, Business/Classified was four pages, Quest was four pages ... and the last section? That was Sports, and it was 10 pages, the thickest of all.

I understand how important diversions like sports can be, especially in bad times. People want to focus on something other than the world's woes. They want to be distracted from pressing personal problems, and cheering on the home team provides the perfect outlet.

But when the populace turns practically suicidal after the Chargers lose, I begin to wonder what kind of priorities we have as a people.

In my trusty daily paper this Tuesday morning, I read an editorial that described the frustration, grief and anger that Chargers fans are feeling over Sunday's loss. Those were the exact words: frustration, grief and anger.

As an education writer, here's where my jealousy rears its ugly head: Why are people so upset over this when other issues like education are more relevant? Why is there so much coverage of sports when education — and all the other international and national stories of importance — is shoved aside to make room for descriptions of the athletic prowess and personal missteps of over-excited, overpaid, over-reported sports heroes?

I'm no wet blanket. I watched the game on television on Sunday like so many other people, although it was the first time I watched all season. I cheered for the Chargers when they did good (mainly those cheers were confined to the first quarter), and I reveled in the possibility that we'd have a champion football team at last.

I even searched for my old lightning bolt lapel pin and dusted it off, ready for wear again from that season way back when, in whatever year it was that San Diego went to the Super Bowl and famously lost. Others will remember exactly what year it was — and probably where they were and even what they were wearing on the day of the game. But that year has faded from my memory, along with all the other unimportant details and dizzying statistics that mesmerize fanatic sports fans.

So I was bummed too, momentarily. But nothing like the tears being shed. Honestly, you'd think everyone's favorite grandma just passed on.

And what about the spiteful words condemning the team, the coach and especially that poor kicker?



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