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High School Basketball, the Economy and a Confusing Decision - The Story of the 2009 NorCal Champs

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posted on Mar, 23 2009 @ 06:07 PM
This is a story about the 2009 Northern California Division I high school boys championship between McClymonds High and Monte Vista. It includes some great basketball, great sportsmanship, a befuddling decision by a school district, and ultimately, a dose of reality.

For those outside of the Bay Area, McClymonds high school is located in West Oakland and has produced such notable people as Paul Silas, the Celtics legend and all-time great Bill Russell and the not so great MC Hammer. This is a school that many would consider to be on the wrong side of the tracks. They have a graduation rate of 52% in a city with a median income of $46,475 (low by Bay Area standards) and a crime rate index of 945.9 (US average 320.9).

Monte Vista is a high school located in the affluent town of Danville, CA and counts super model Christy Turlington as one of its' alumns. They boast a graduation rate of over 99% in a city with a median income of $136,923 and a crime rate index of 93.9 (no, that's not a typo, 93.9).

These two teams met in the NorCal finals, with the winner set to compete in Sacramento for the state title. A hard fought, back-and-forth game ensued, with McClymonds (the 2008 State Champs) edging out Monte Vista, 46-43. The Warriors of McClymonds had punched their ticket to the finals.

For many high school athletes, a chance to play in the state title game will be the apex of their athletic careers. It is customary for schools to send their teams up to the state capital a day or two prior to the championship game, so fatigue or lack of practice will not play a factor in the title match. Unfortunately, McClymonds resides in the much maligned Oakland Unified School District.

It was announced that the district did not have the funds to send the Warriors to Sacramento and that the players themselves would have to find their own transportation/accommodations. This is no small task for a team of young kids from Oakland.

This is the point of the story where you might expect some great philanthropist or alumni to step in and foot the bill, but this is not the case. Guess who decided to chip in? None other than the parents of the team beaten by McClymonds to reach the finals. A parent of one of the Monte Vista players had heard about the situation in Oakland and decided to pass the hat around other Monte Vista parents. They raised the necessary money and McClymonds was now set to head up to Sacramento early to defend their championship.

What a great story, right? Unfortunately, this where the befuddling decision by a school district comes in. Upon release of the story regarding the fund raising efforts of the Monte Vista parents, the Oakland School District decided to fund the team and forced them to give back the money donated. Many in the Bay Area believe that the district did not want to look bad and coughed up the dough. I think the head coach from Monte Vista summed it up best:

"I don't know what high school sports program is in a position to say 'No, thank you' to money, ours included," he said, "that's what's sort of surprising."

As for the dose of reality: McClymonds ended up playing their worst game of the season, losing to SoCal champs Westchester, 49-31.

I think it's a great, feel-good type of story to hear how high school sports was able to bring together two communities on opposite ends of the spectrum. It truly is nice to see people helping out people. It is also unfortunate to see how the district prevented this from happening.


Edit to Add Source Links:
McClymonds Grad Rate
Oakland Stats
MonteVista Grad Rate
Danville Stats
McClymonds ordered by school district to return Monte Vista's donations

[edit on 23-3-2009 by kawz1]

[edit on 23-3-2009 by kawz1]

posted on Mar, 23 2009 @ 06:21 PM
Just wanted to chime in and point out that I thought this to be a "feel good" story none the less.

I just can't get away from all of these beurocrats who handle our schools. Athletics, and it's natural byproduct, team building, contain so many neccesary influences over developing youth, and yet they take a back seat as a supposed "extra-curriculars". If only the school board had decided to support their own before the team was needlessly embarrassed.

posted on Mar, 24 2009 @ 06:22 PM
reply to post by jasonjnelson

I agree. There is a lot more to learning than textbooks and exams. Sports, student government and the arts are often overlooked in favor of high scores on state exams. Of course, it is hard to fault the schools themselves for this, seeing as how state funding is heavily dependent on how the students fair on these exams. It doesn't quite make sense, if a school has low test scores, how does penalizing them with less funding help? /rant

Growing up in California, I've seen entire music programs tossed away and school sports teams having to foot the bill for jerseys, transportation, etc. with little to no help from the district. This generation of youth are being deprived of some very important things and, unfortunately, things look to be getting worse before they get any better.


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