The Value of School Sports

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There is growing concern whether or not sports should be included in the school setting. Students in our Intro to Sports Administration course debated this topic, first with an initial post, and then a response to a peer. Read a few of the initial posts below.

By: Marcia Lovett

The city of Detroit had many extracurricular activity options available for the youth when I was growing up.

During my elementary/middle school years, we could run up and down the street playing tag or hide-and-seek and just enjoy being outside with our friends. We could go to the neighborhood playground to swing, climb the monkey bars or ride the seesaw.  We would practice our (near perfect) cheerleading skills while watching the boys play basketball and arguing over who caught whose eye. If we did not mind the walk, we had the option of going to the nearest recreational center for swimming, arts and crafts or any other activity going on that particular day.  These options were available to us throughout the entire year, during the school year or summer (when school was out).  Once we made it to high school, we were able to take the skills we developed during our younger years and join one of our high school teams.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Gangs existed and the temptation was there, but many of us were able to go another route because of the alternatives that were available at the time. I can honestly say that most of us turned out all right.

Turning out all right is much harder for children growing up in Detroit today. Their extracurricular options are far and few. Gangs are more prevalent than ever. The kids are unable to play outside without the thought of violence hanging over their heads because the fear of becoming an innocent victim of a crime at a young age is very real. The neighborhood parks do not exist. The equipment is unusable and the grass is uncut. Going to the neighborhood rec center is not an option because many of them have closed. The few rec centers that remain open are not within walking distance for many of kids to get to. It appears that participating in high school sports is the only viable option for some and a good alternative for others.

High school athletic programs are not without its problems, but eliminating it is not the answer. The program does more good than it gets credit for. High school sports promotes good sportsmanship through healthy competition. Eliminating of the athletic program from high school could have a negative impact on the kids. Kids that want to join a high school team are required to attend school regularly and maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA). Without having a sports program, school attendance could decline, the average GPA could be lower, and dropout rates may increase. There would be no additional incentive to stay in school. With limited extracurricular choices available, playing on the school team may be the only opportunity that some have for extracurricular activity. Another benefit is building socialization skills. Kids have limited chances to hone their socialization skills with the advancement of technology. Being a part of a team helps build additional skills that will help the kids as they navigate through adulthood: conflict resolution, leadership, time management, and team building.

By: Chad Golembiewski

High school sports are very valuable for kids. They provide so much for an adolescent looking to gain social skills and other skills that can be used in life. I grew up playing sports. I played throughout high school and when it came down for me to make the choice of going to a community college and playing baseball or going to a major university, I chose to go to the major university. I knew how unlikely it was for me to make a career playing baseball, so I did the smart decision and got a great education. If I can be brought up to think that way, then I think a lot of kids can be brought up that way. I was fortunate enough to have a great support system and some great coaches that really emphasized the importance of life outside of sports. I did very well in high school and I honestly do not know how I would have survived high school without playing sports. It gave me the motivation to wake up each day and go to school. I had something to look forward to each and every day. Sure I had many long nights of doing homework after a sporting event, but is that not real life? College consists of a lot of late nights preparing for an exam or doing homework. Some people have jobs that they have to work all night. I understand that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a great support system, and that can sometimes lead people down the wrong path. I understand everyone comes from different backgrounds and the things I was lucky enough to have many others were not as fortunate. I just feel that high school sports can be very advantageous for participants if the right support system is around these athletes.

I’ve been around a lot of sport programs, even working for one in college, that really instilled the emphasis of preparing for life and everything life will throw at you. Yes, getting the practice and improving skills for the specific sport were very important, but so were values that could be used in everyday life. Values such as integrity, hard work, responsibility, respect, and many others were taught to me for my sport, but also to use in everyday life. Sports can teach people that other things simply cannot. Everything I have done in my life since high school has involved the skills and values I learned from playing sports. Baseball might not teach you calculus, or American history, but it can teach you critical thinking, strategy, and leadership. If someone wants a job in math in the future well then they should pay attention in math class. Regardless, sports can help teach them the skills to be a successful leader in their future career. Sports can be such a great tool for all that play. Sure some coaches will be bad, but some teachers will be as well. If kids are taught by their parents or guardians the correct values, sports can be just as important of a development tool as schooling can be.

By: Lyndsay Butler

Participating and competing in high school sports has advantages because it teaches young adults crucial life lessons. There is no better way to learn about determination, teamwork and perseverance than involvement in a competitive sport. In order for a team to be successful in any sport, these values are necessary. I have lived the student athlete life since I was a young kid, and year after year I’d have to balance multiple classes and a demanding sport. Although this is not the easiest lifestyle, I can say that I truly learned those key values along with other important life skills such as communication, good time management and the ability to effectively set priorities.

Education is very important, and I do agree that there needs to be a better balance between academics and athletics, but eliminating sports altogether would be a big mistake. Life lessons are a key aspect of sport, but not only that, sports allow kids to completely open up, be creative and totally be themselves. You can get a kid who is extremely shy and never speaks up in class, but they could be the best leader and most outspoken person on the field, because that’s the element that they’re the most comfortable in. Also, the competitive nature that’s often ingrained in players through sport is something that they will always have, and in a lot of cases will influence competitiveness and strong work ethic in the workplace.

Unfortunately, some students do not excel in the classroom and some students do not get straight A’s, but in their sport they could be the hardest working player on the field and could demonstrate knowledge and intuition that other non-athletes may not demonstrate. While good grades can assist in securing a better, higher paying job, so can experience as an athlete. In one job interview I had a few years ago, being an athlete was what really struck the employer as intriguing and that’s what they showed the most interest in. While educators and parents want to see a greater focus on schooling itself, they are forgetting that sports can also be a very positive teaching tool for students.

The last thing I will touch on is the opportunity that high school sports offers for student athletes. Competitive high school sports are not just recreational and a good way to get exercise. These sports are serious, and only the best players will make the team. High school sports can be crucial for an athlete looking to move on to the next level and play collegiate sports, or in some cases even make it to the professional level. While academics are very important and they need to be stressed to high school students, sports can be very important as well. There needs to be consideration for both the scholars and the student athletes, because grades are not the only determinants of intelligence in the long run.

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