It’s always gratifying to help a client share good news about the positive things they do. That was the case recently when we helped the Florida High School Athletic Association spread the word about schools that earned recognition as Academic Team Champions.
This is a remarkable achievement for any Florida high school, reflecting excellence on both sides of the “student-athlete” equation – in the classroom and on the field of competition. The annual recognition also gives the Association an opportunity to show the world that it’s about so much more than just wins and losses and rules enforcement (See the FHSAA press release here).
For more than a year now, the FHSAA has been under attack by a prominent cadre of Florida legislators, who believe the organization oversteps its bounds when investigating and enforcing rules violations. Some media accounts have suggested that these legislators are targeting the FHSAA because it stripped their local high school of a state championship for using ineligible players. But that’s a discussion for another day.
What’s noteworthy here and now is the fact that, despite the constant threat of legislative retribution, the FHSAA maintains its sharp focus on helping to mold Florida’s future leaders – not just those who lead in sports competition, but those who have the skills to shape the broader community.
I work regularly with the leadership of the FHSAA, and I witness first-hand their deep commitment to the comprehensive education of Florida’s boys and girls. They are former school superintendents, principals and other administrators who understand the proper place of athletics in a broader effort to shape well-rounded young men and women. The Association certainly enforces rules regarding athletics, but it also promotes classroom education and community involvement through such initiatives as the Academic Team Champions recognition, the Scholar Athletes of the Year program and the Academic All-State Team.
It’s probably human nature that when a school is penalized for violating the rules, people blame the enforcer. Yet when that same organization honors a school for inspiring excellence among student-athletes, its role in fostering this uplifting environment is easily overlooked.
Whether its contribution to this positive effort is acknowledged or ignored, the FHSAA will continue emphasizing the importance of academics for Florida’s student-athletes. And that makes it all the more satisfying to work with such an outstanding client.