Doing The Right Thing

One of the most heart-warming things I’ve ever seen occurred many years ago during a high school football game I was covering from the sidelines.

As I watched and took notes, a little fellow I’d never seen take the field before trotted out onto the grass and went into the huddle. I asked an assistant coach why the lad, much smaller than anyone else on either team, had been put into the game. He couldn’t have weighed more than 80 pounds.

It seems his family doctor had advised he shouldn’t play football. Too dangerous for him. But he’d gone out for the team, endured hard practices, and earned the respect of his coaches and teammates. They decided he had earned a shot, even if it would be his only one.

He was about to play high school football for the first and possibly last time in his life. He lined up opposite a hulk who had to have outweighed him three to one. The quarterback called signals, the ball was snapped and the little fellow slammed into his opponent … who went down hard.

Then our little hero, listening to genuine cheers from both sides of the field, trotted back to the bench.

Everyone learned something that night. The pint-sized player learned there was more to him than most folks, possibly even he, knew.

So it was with mixed feelings that I read of a U.S. Education Department edict issued last week. It was that public schools must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide “equal alternative” options for them.

There’s no doubt in my mind many children excluded from sports because of disabilities would benefit from organized athletics.

But who will pay for the new programs? Will school districts raise taxes? Lay off a few teachers? Find other ways to cut back on services to all students?

Of course, giving children with disabilities more options is the right thing to do – just as it was right for the little football player to get a shot at his dream.

But again, how will we pay for doing all the right things? Can we afford them?

Has anyone thought about the possibility that doing some right things may force us to stop doing others that are at least equally right?

We Americans don’t like to be reminded that everything has a cost. Perhaps that’s why we’re $16.4 trillion in debt.

Myer can be reached at: