The Washington Times - December 9, 2008, 02:30PM

I was invited this morning by the good people of the Arent Fox law firm to help judge a series of debates involving students from several area high schools and elementary schools. The schools: Randle Elementary, J.O. Wilson Elementary and Miner Elementary, plus Thomas Jefferson, Montgomery Blair, Banneker and Bell High Schools. The topics: Is the BCS fair, and is the NBA’s minimum age limit fair?

I sat on a panel alongside former NFL cornerback Mark Washington and Michael Anderson, a VP with Perennial Sports and Entertainment. WTEM’s Andy Pollin, the Redskins’ London Fletcher and some other accomplished people were also judges. I didn’t get to meet them all, because we were spread out in several different rooms in Arent Fox’s offices.

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For our debates, we sat across the table from a host of kids ranging from 4th and 5th graders to juniors and seniors in high school. And let me tell you, these kids were pretty sharp.

What was most interesting is hearing the arguments in favor of the BCS, which we have grown to almost universally despise. In nearly every one of the students’ pro-BCS arguments, we heard quite a bit about the importance of academics and how a tournament-style playoff in college football would take players away from their studies. It was kind of refreshing to hear, because when adults debate these things, the academic arguments usually get cast aside or we simply mock anyone who brings them up. But when you hear them from young, academically talented kids, they actually resonate. There were two young girls, Tynisia and Nikia, who were particularly eloquent in reminding us that college football players still go to class and take exams. The issue of whether Texas deserves a shot at the national title or whether Boise State got screwed was irrelevant.

Sometimes it’s really great to hear from people who aren’t cynical and jaded like us.

- Tim Lemke