Sports saved me back when I was in school. Literally, they saved me. Many of my teachers were insensitive idiots, the textbooks bored the crap out of me and rote learning was the way of the world.
Sports gave me a reason to like school. (I always LOVED learning, but I didn’t always love school. And sadly, the two are not always synonymous.)
Now, do sports trump academics? Of course not. But I don’t think it’s an either/or scenario whereas one side needs to “win out” over the other. When I really think about it I realize sports have taught me things about dedication, teamwork, heart, tenacity, personal effort, dignity and so on that school – at least my school – hardly ever even attempted. But a coach, they live, eat and breathe these things. (At least, a good one, does.)
Sports can often mold young people in a way that we absolutely want and even though some schools seem to go psycho in their support of their football or basketball teams (baseball, volleyball and so on, not so much – those are the big 2) academics, when I really think about it is being prioritized by our schools to some extent. After all, it’s always supposed to be class first, then sports. And the city leagues do a pretty good job of insisting upon academic eligibility before they will let players compete.
(No, the system is not perfect. I know, I know.)
The thing is, for some of these players, sports are the only reason they will even bother to go to class. Now we can argue of the merits of that mentality, but it’s a different topic. (A failing of society, parents, the home life, the community, and so on.) But tossing athletics under the bus in the name of turning our schools into core curriculum warehouses seems like a really bad idea to me.
Our kids need exercise (America is plagued by overweight children) and our kids love sports. Plus, lately I’ve been on the “tech geek” bandwagon and I really feel as if some fresh air and outdoor activity is fundamental to a well-functioning human body. Sports is a great compliment to school and without sports, I do feel schools are lesser.
But I feel that way about the arts, music, industrial arts and so on as well.
Like I said, sports practically saved me back in the day. Supporting them does not have to come at the expense of class. One should, in an ideal world, walk hand-in-hand with the other.