It’s the kids that matter |

It’s the kids that matter

Tony Vagneur

Aspen, CO ColoradoSome things die a slow death in the media, and the Travis Benson saga, out at the high school, is one of them. Maybe in this case, there is good reason to keep the issue in the spotlight, but by the time this column sees print, the truth may have been revealed and I’ll look like I just hit town with a dirty carpetbag.At first glance, there seems to be an effort underfoot to paint Superintendent Diana Sirko as the “bad guy” (“bad girl” just doesn’t seem to fit, does it?), but most likely, she’s just the decoy. Oh, all right, a decoy with bright plumage that got caught strutting a little close to the blind. The school board, blathering with ineffectual stonewalling, has said it backs Sirko on the coaching “discussion,” which basically is to say, “We don’t know what’s going on in our school district, but we wholeheartedly support it.” Such myopathy may prove inextricable as more facts become known.Of course, simmering on the back burner is the thought that Sirko’s mismanagement of this debacle was triggered by vague complaints from a few parents. I’ll bet if you were a fly on the wall in Diana’s office, the complaints were not vague, but decidedly pointed; so to the point, in fact, that intervention on Sirko’s part seemed absolutely compelling. Sirko’s flaw, one she could not help, was that for whatever ultimatum she may have received, there was an unemployed football coach lingering around her house. An unforeseen opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, that at first glance did not reveal itself to be fraught with the undiscerning ability to make Sirko a sacrificial lamb. Oops.I mean, what’s a football team to do in a world-class ski resort, with artificial turf generously funded by a few parents, that can’t win more games? Perhaps I’m reading this patchwork of intrigue incorrectly, but past experience says that, if nothing else, the nouveau riche believe they can have things their way, when they want to. Think $900,000 in private funding for the artificially-turfed football field (total cost $1.5 million), and the thought of donation-delirious donors, flexing their moneyed muscles, just seems to ripple through the contours of the mind.Interesting to note is the lack of opposition to the new, well-lit field, from the adjacent Meadowood and Five Trees subdivisions. Several years ago, the issue over ball field lights almost prevented the development of Five Trees.It’s entirely possible that the issue is less mendacious than I’ve chosen to make it, and there really is a group of parents concerned over the abilities of the football coach. Listening to them, particularly behind closed doors, is truly a disembarkation from common sense, as most everyone who has ever had a child participate in a high school athletic endeavor knows. The majority of parents, in any school district you’d wish to name, are not exactly objective onlookers. Blindly heeding the pleas of such groups is clearly a recipe for disaster.It’s good to remember that this type of rigmarole is not new and will happen again. When I attended Aspen high school, the powers that were fell over backwards to get a winning coach. We ended up getting a good one who, although he didn’t win many games for a while, boosted school spirit to an all-time high. Of course, there was a faction that tried to get rid of him, but the loyalty of the kids overwhelmed the thought.And, indubitably, that is the bottom line – the students need to be the ones who win. Not the parents, not the greasy money – no one else.Tony Vagneur thinks we’re all crazed from having to deal with issues like this. Read him here every Saturday and send comments to

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