Reporters don’t use all the information they obtain during an interview for a story.
Sometimes there’s not enough space or some items don’t fit into the context of the assignment.
Those items can lead to another story. Or they lead to a column like this one.
It was great to catch up with former Catholic High running back Kevin Franklin. He covered a broad range of topics in an hour, sticking mostly to where he had been and what he’s up to now.
As he talked, Franklin offered some frank answers about his family’s decision to enroll him at Catholic and about how things are different today. What Franklin said is relevant to the current struggles between Louisiana’s public and private schools and education in general.
“We sparked a lot of stuff in Baton Rouge,” Franklin said of himself and former Catholic teammate Warrick Dunn, who went on to star at Florida State and the NFL. “We were African Americans at a predominantly white school. You didn’t see a lot of that back then. And then we were successful. Other people started doing it.”
Franklin went on to play at LSU and later transferred to Southern.
Stories about private school coaches flooding playgrounds to recruit players are now common. Franklin said it was the parent of a youth football rival who sold his parents on Catholic by asking them what they wanted to offer their son.
“I didn’t even know where Catholic was,” Franklin said. “It’s not as easy as walking through the door. You take tests to be admitted and go through a long process. Getting in isn’t a sure thing.
“There was financial aid, but my parents and Miss Betty (Smothers, Dunn’s mother) were making payments every month just like the other parents. It wasn’t a free ride like people thought.”
Franklin’s younger brother, Robert, attended Catholic several years after he did. Because of his own experience, Franklin understands why parents now look at all options for their children. Some move to suburban areas and some opt for private schools or charter schools.
Through his work as After School Program director at the Pennington YMCA, Franklin works with children and sees plenty of good things.
Yet he has concerns.
“We valued education,” Franklin said. “We wanted a better ACT score and better grades.
We didn’t want to settle for the minimum. I worry about kids taking their education seriously. Now there are issues with the Common Core and it looks like it’s about to be thrown out. Isn’t that another reason for kids not to take education seriously?
“There comes a time when your 40 time or how many yards you gain isn’t going to get you anything. If you don’t value education, regardless of where you go to school, what is there to fall back on?”
It is a valid question.
About 25 years ago I thought the NCAA’s decision to set academic requirements for incoming student-athletes would be a solution. Turns out that only works to a certain extent.
Now I wonder what athletes from 2014 will say about education and athletics in 20 years. I hope it’s better, but know there are no guarantees.