Business was scheduled to take a backseat to football with Pine Bluff High School head football coach Bobby Bolding speaking at Tuesday’s Pine Bluff Rotary Club meeting at the Pine Bluff Country Club.
As it turns out, football took a backseat to education, especially education through sports.
Bolding said that about every five years the state adopts a new teaching philosophy. The current model is the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which has been adopted by 45 states.
What Bolding, who also serves as the school’s athletics director, really likes about Common Core is that it “decided to follow the model for athletics.”
“You don’t learn to throw the football until you learn how to hold the football,” Bolding said. “There is a progression, it’s no different than adding and multiplying when it comes to math.”
Bolding likes the emphasis on progression that Common Core teaches, but he would argue that extracurricular activities, especially sports, teach children things that they can’t learn in the classroom.
“A lot of things are learned through sports that aren’t taught in the classroom,” Bolding said. “Teaching kids how to follow, nobody wants to learn how to follow anymore, everybody wants to lead, but you have to be able to teach kids to follow as well as to lead.
“Time management skills, they aren’t taught in school anymore, because everything is aimed at what’s going to be on the benchmark tests.”
Bolding said more money should be allocated to funding the activities that provide these life lessons to students.
“Only one to three percent of our budget is spent on (extracurricular activities),” Bolding said. “And, quite frankly I think it should be a higher percentage.
“Now, I will say Pine Bluff (High School) is doing a good job, but still more kids need to be involved and we need to find better ways to fund (extracurricular activities).”
Bolding also discussed the academic situation of college athletics as compared to high school.
“College coaches have forgotten that athletics is a part of the education process,” Bolding said. “Discipline has been lost in college, winning has become more important.”
Bolding also discussed what he sees as the difference between high school and college athletics.
“To me, discipline is the biggest difference between high school and college,” Bolding said. “As long as coaches are allowed to hold kids accountable and I’m also the AD so I tell all my other coaches, ‘Don’t do anything illegal, unethical or immoral.’
“Because, if you don’t know what falls under those three categories you are in the wrong profession, but kids need to be held up to high standards.”
Bolding went on to emphasis the importance of setting those standards for his players on an individual basis.
“If I find out an A-student has a B in a class, I’m going to sit him down and ask him what’s going on,” Bolding said. “But, if a C-student gets a B in a course, I’m giving that young man a high-five.”
Football might not have been the main topic of Bolding’s speech, but it certainly came up during the question-and-answer session following it.
When asked about the upcoming season, Bolding brought up the fact that despite returning only three starters Pine Bluff is ranked No. 1 in the state in a preseason poll.
“I don’t know who did these rankings, but you talk about setting me up to get yelled at on Friday night,” Bolding joked.
During the Q-and-A, Bolding also mentioned the high-ceiling of his sophomore class.
“We’ve got a tremendous sophomore class, I mean, we got maybe five Division 1-caliber athletes in that group and they’re all A- and B-students,” Bolding said.
But, even when football was being discussed Bolding still emphasized academics.
When asked about the changes he’s seen in the recruiting process over the years Bolding said, “I have the kids’ transcripts and a little packet all ready for the coaches when they walk in the door.
“When I hand them that packet the first thing they do is look at the transcript, and all too often they look at it and say, ‘Well, this kid won’t make the grades.’”
Bolding then summed up his answer, although it would have also served as a good summary of his speech, “If they don’t have the academics, (the rest) doesn’t matter.”