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Are Sports Necessary in School?

CoffeeSaint

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As a high school teacher, and the instructor for a core subject (Language Arts/Speech), my belief is that the priority of public schools should be academic achievement; I believe we do a reasonable job of teaching students the basic skills, but a terrible job of teaching higher level cognitive development: high level reading and writing, logic, critical thinking, high level math skills, etc. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that schools focus much of their time and attention, and especially much of the institutional encouragement and praise, on athletic accomplishment, rather than intellectual accomplishment. Since I believe that, I think competitive school sports should be eliminated, in favor of PE within school, and independent club teams totally separate from school for after school and summertime activities.

However: I recognize that I am an absolute non-athlete. I never played school sports, and I don't coach school sports or even attend, most of the time. So I'd like to solicit opinions: what do you all think about sports in school, specifically public high schools? Are they valuable, and why? If not, why not?
 

bandaidwoman

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CoffeeSaint said:
As a high school teacher, and the instructor for a core subject (Language Arts/Speech), my belief is that the priority of public schools should be academic achievement; I believe we do a reasonable job of teaching students the basic skills, but a terrible job of teaching higher level cognitive development: high level reading and writing, logic, critical thinking, high level math skills, etc. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that schools focus much of their time and attention, and especially much of the institutional encouragement and praise, on athletic accomplishment, rather than intellectual accomplishment. Since I believe that, I think competitive school sports should be eliminated, in favor of PE within school, and independent club teams totally separate from school for after school and summertime activities.

However: I recognize that I am an absolute non-athlete. I never played school sports, and I don't coach school sports or even attend, most of the time. So I'd like to solicit opinions: what do you all think about sports in school, specifically public high schools? Are they valuable, and why? If not, why not?
I'm an athlete scholar so of course I advocate both. I believe in the greek philosophy of sound mind and body. I was educated in the Far East and we had rigorous excercise curriculum for everyone, non athlete to athlete alike. I was on the track team for most of my high school years. I went on to become a chemist, then grad school, med school, research etc. so I felt my higher learning was not compromised and my years on the school athletic team ingrained good health habits and discipline I still practice today. My brother was educated in the public school system in New York ....star varsity baseball pitcher, went to graduate Princeton a valedictorian. He attributes his ability to focus and come through at times of adversity to his years playing varsity sports. (he also played basketball in the fall since he was 6'5").
I think school sports complement academics, although some allow it to ditract from the academics. In America, I believe sports like football also generate a lot of needed revenue for the schools no?
 

steen

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If people want to play competitive sports, they can of course join a club for that purpose. School is an academic setting, where PE certainly matter per sedentary students, but sport competition merely takes away from academics.
 

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bandaidwoman said:
I think school sports complement academics, although some allow it to ditract from the academics. In America, I believe sports like football also generate a lot of needed revenue for the schools no?
I don't know how the college system works, but I know that as far as at least some high schools go, the monies generated from ticket sales and concessions at athletic events are used to fund things like the school dances, class picnics, things of that nature.
 

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bandaidwoman said:
I'm an athlete scholar so of course I advocate both. I believe in the greek philosophy of sound mind and body. I was educated in the Far East and we had rigorous excercise curriculum for everyone, non athlete to athlete alike. I was on the track team for most of my high school years. I went on to become a chemist, then grad school, med school, research etc. so I felt my higher learning was not compromised and my years on the school athletic team ingrained good health habits and discipline I still practice today. My brother was educated in the public school system in New York ....star varsity baseball pitcher, went to graduate Princeton a valedictorian. He attributes his ability to focus and come through at times of adversity to his years playing varsity sports. (he also played basketball in the fall since he was 6'5").
I think school sports complement academics, although some allow it to ditract from the academics. In America, I believe sports like football also generate a lot of needed revenue for the schools no?
My first question here would be about causality: did your brother learn focus and fortitude from sports, or did the focus and fortitude he already had make him a stand-out athlete? Unanswerable, I know, but I still wonder.
I see the value of good health habits and discipline, but I am not sure that the good health habits can, or should, come from school-sponsored sports; school should teach physical education, which should include promotion of these traits, and they should then be reinforced by the family. Does intramural competitive sports serve this purpose in a way that phys. ed, club teams, and family involvement could not?
I watch my student athletes leave class early, or miss class entirely, at least once a week, and most of them never think twice about what they are missing; I watch my classes get shortened every month for pep rallies; I listen to the students fret and complain about raising their grades, not so they can graduate, not so they can improve their future opportunities, but so they can play in the big game. I see, of course, the motivation that participation in sports brings, but it is a temporary motivation, and a misplaced one, in terms of academics. These kids should want to learn so they can be educated, not so they can play. I also think the push to use sports as a motivator for grades cuts two ways: teachers are tempted to alter grades, or water down curriculum, to allow students to play sports; schools are tempted to lower academic standards, or to allow loopholes, for athletes, especially star athletes in competitive schools. And, of course, I can't help but wonder how much of our country's fascination with sports, our idolization of athletes, and the growing trend of professional athletes skipping college entirely, is attributable to the weight given to athletics in high school.
 

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I am for school sports. It helps people learn teamwork, dedication, and discipline. These are core values to success, attaining goals, and being the best you can be. Yes kids may only care about passing so they can play. If there wasn't the sport, what do you propose would make them care? It also gives them something to do with their free time to keep them out of trouble.

Physical education is a joke to many kids. Look at the number of kids who are overweight. They don't put the effort into it.

Kids skip college for the payday of pro sports. It isn't the fame or girls, they would get that in college. It has nothing to do with high school sports. Also, How would underpriveledged kids get scholarships to schools that couldn't afford it. Not everyone has the same mental abilities and capacity.
 

bandaidwoman

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CoffeeSaint said:
My first question here would be about causality: did your brother learn focus and fortitude from sports, or did the focus and fortitude he already had make him a stand-out athlete? Unanswerable, I know, but I still wonder.
I see the value of good health habits and discipline, but I am not sure that the good health habits can, or should, come from school-sponsored sports; school should teach physical education, which should include promotion of these traits, and they should then be reinforced by the family. Does intramural competitive sports serve this purpose in a way that phys. ed, club teams, and family involvement could not?
I watch my student athletes leave class early, or miss class entirely, at least once a week, and most of them never think twice about what they are missing; I watch my classes get shortened every month for pep rallies; I listen to the students fret and complain about raising their grades, not so they can graduate, not so they can improve their future opportunities, but so they can play in the big game. I see, of course, the motivation that participation in sports brings, but it is a temporary motivation, and a misplaced one, in terms of academics. These kids should want to learn so they can be educated, not so they can play. I also think the push to use sports as a motivator for grades cuts two ways: teachers are tempted to alter grades, or water down curriculum, to allow students to play sports; schools are tempted to lower academic standards, or to allow loopholes, for athletes, especially star athletes in competitive schools. And, of course, I can't help but wonder how much of our country's fascination with sports, our idolization of athletes, and the growing trend of professional athletes skipping college entirely, is attributable to the weight given to athletics in high school.
Which is the chicken or the egg that's true. But there are numerous studies showing female participation in sports (not excercise) reduces their chances of teen pregnancy, etc. so there is something intrinisic that a team competition brings. As for promoting joining private clubs, I did not have a car throughout my high school years, both parents worked. If the school did not offer the sports team, there was no way I could join a track and field club or a softballl club or a soccer club. I stayed after school was over, made team practice and after 5:00pm my parents picked me up. Like I said, in the Far East our academics are excellent and we still had school teams and sports. (I studied in taiwan, Japan and Malaysia). Perhaps American schools need to find a better balance between the two but not get rid of them entirely.!
 

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As a physician I look at the public health aspect of team sports:
they decrease the liklihood of teen pregnancy, decrease drug use etc. so I am all for team sports.

http://www.teenpregnancy.org/resources/reading/fact_sheets/sports.asp


Girls who play sports are more likely than those who don't to be virgins.4 They wait longer before having sex for the first time5, have sex less often, and have sex with fewer partners, than female non-athletes.6 And, as noted above, female teen athletes are far less likely to get pregnant than their peers who are not athletes.
Male and female teen athletes are less likely to use drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens.7 This is an important finding because almost a third of young adults (age 18-24) say they have "done more" sexually under the influence of drugs and alcohol than they planned while sober, and more than one in five sexually active young people (age 15-24) report having had unprotected sex while intoxicated.8
When girls in poor neighborhoods participate in sports or other physical activities, they report higher levels of self-esteem and wait longer before having sex for the first time.9
Young female athletes in grades 9-12, particularly African-American girls, are less likely to combine sex with drugs and alcohol than are their non-athlete peers, a key risk factor in becoming pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.10
Female high school athletes of all races and ethnicities tend to have higher grades and significantly higher graduation rates than non-athletes, and this academic performance is powerfully linked to avoiding teen pregnancy.11 For example, about half of teen mothers drop out of school before they become pregnant.12 The positive effects of sports on grades are especially pronounced among Latinas, the ethnic group with the highest teen birth rate.13
So the thinking that sport hinders academics is not substantiated by data.

And I totally agree with independant thinker, my brother got a full scholarship to Princeton because of his baseball scholarship (otherwise our parents could not affort he $33,000 a year tuition (1989) but he graduated valedictorian with a physics and philosophy major anyway. (He also got an academic scholarship but it was a partial sholarship so the only way he could go was the sports route.)
 
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bandaidwoman

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here are more information on athletic involvment and academic preformance

Extracurricular Activities: The Road to Academic Success?
This article is from "Educational Leadership", Volume 57 Number 4 December 1999/January 2000.
http://www.ascd.org/publications/ed_lead/199912/holloway.html

* Education World - Science or Soccer? -- How Important Are Extracurricular Activities?
Includes several online resources.
http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr237.shtml

* Sports Lift Esteem in Young Athletes
This brief from the American Psychological Association says that sports contribute to self-esteem, motivation, and academic success.
http://helping.apa.org/family/prepare.html

* National Parent Information Network
Extracurricular Activities in Children's Lives
http://npin.org/pnews/1999/pnew1199/int1199c.html

* Extracurricular Activities
This report examines the correlation between extracurricular activities and academic performance.
http://www.iastate.edu/~rhetoric/105H17/rhollrah/cof.html


The latter study shows how any "non academic" extracurriclular activity enhances academic preformance. For some of us, that includes sports (and once again for those of us without our own cars in high school due to financially strapped parents, the option of out of school extracurricular was very problematic.)
 

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Just a thought.....

If you took sports out of the public schools, wouldn't you also have to take all music programs, (bands, marching bands, orchestras, choirs) art programs, and those in the drama departments out?

Granted the children who participate in sports leave classes more often....but also kids who were are in the music and art departments left early as well.

By eliminating these programs.......you also eliminate a lot of things with them....many of these positive.

Just a thought.....If these were not offered at school the majority of kids would not participate in sports at all. Schools in most instances provide the equipment and transportation, two things many parents can't do because they work or can't afford it.
We could afford it but I know many others who simply could not. Travel sports are very very expensive. My son excelled in two sports, golf and ice hockey.
He got a Division I scholarship in golf and eventually went to college to play.
Hated it........missed hockey so much that he quit and now plays Junior A hockey. Now we don't pay a dime. He played golf in high school but played club AAA hockey that we had to drive over 1 1/2 hours one way, 4 nights a week for him to play.

I look back and sometimes think we were nuts.....but it kept him focused, busy and did so much for his self-worth and his self esteem. He has become a real leader. I think all kids should get opportunitites like my son did.

To take these programs out of schools would eliminate many chances for kids.
It would turn schools into boring think tanks.

There has got to be other ways to work the system...but I just do not know what. Education should come first, but to eliminate sports and music and art.......I just don't think would have positive results.
 

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It would be unfair of me to say that anyone who hasn't played sports doesn't understand what benefits athletics offers (for there is no rebuttle to such a statement), but it's true. Anyway,taking sports out of schools could further deteriate the crisis we already have, obesity in children. Now, I'm not saying that school ssports could solve all the problems of diabetes and all the other weight related problems, but it is a start. True, like the Romans, American society is putting too much importance in athletics, but to eliminate sports in schools altogether is a much worse move. A sport can give someone confidence, or a purpose, or a way to relax, it teaches students to balance their time better (if they want to be successful in academics, and if they don't, that is a problem aimed toward parents rather than sports). In fact, I've often round that usually the all A students are those that participate in after school sporting events.
 

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liberal1 said:
It would be unfair of me to say that anyone who hasn't played sports doesn't understand what benefits athletics offers (for there is no rebuttle to such a statement), but it's true. Anyway,taking sports out of schools could further deteriate the crisis we already have, obesity in children. Now, I'm not saying that school ssports could solve all the problems of diabetes and all the other weight related problems, but it is a start. True, like the Romans, American society is putting too much importance in athletics, but to eliminate sports in schools altogether is a much worse move. A sport can give someone confidence, or a purpose, or a way to relax, it teaches students to balance their time better (if they want to be successful in academics, and if they don't, that is a problem aimed toward parents rather than sports). In fact, I've often round that usually the all A students are those that participate in after school sporting events.
Of course I don't understand the benefits of sports; that's why I asked. But in my experience, while there are scholar-athletes who excel in both athletics and academics, the students who get all A's are not the athletes. The athletes are the ones who scrape by with C's and a D or two, because they are the popular students, which means they are the students who are socializing instead of paying attention, hanging out and going to practice and games instead of studying and doing homework. You say that a lack of interest in academics is the parents' problem? I'd say obesity is the parents' problem. The schools are supposed to educate the children, and while we cannot ignore the health of the kids, that is not our primary focus, and I don't think it should be. How many obese kids actually play sports? How many obese kids become less obese in order to play sports? Sure, there are certainly students who are in shape because they play sports, but why does this have to be associated with school? Is that where the habits begin?

I recognize that, as others have said, club teams are far away from the schools, and most students don't have transportation. But I don't think that situation would stay the same, if schools stopped sponsoring athletics; I think you would have large numbers of club teams and independent athletics programs centered around the school, and I think that is a good thing. Those club teams could require a certain GPA, and fulfill the same motivational role that school sports play now.

Here's the thing. Many of my students, even most of my students, say that school's greatest value for them is social. They get to see their friends. They get to hang out and talk to their friends. Their classes are secondary to this. Most of the people who play sports are the ones who say these things; they see sports as a chance to socialize, as much as anything else. These same kids get rewarded by the school: they get to wear letter jackets; they have dinners in their honor; the whole school leaves class to cheer for them at pep rallies; they have their pictures enshrined around the school; they are interviewed by the local paper. And in all of the accolades, nobody ever mentions when the star quarterback has a 2.1 GPA. They mention it if he has a good GPA, absolutely -- but only after they list his passing percentage.
This sends a message to the students. When they leave class for pep rallies, it says that the sports, and the athletes, are more important than the classes. When the school posts banners saying, "Go team! Beat the ____'s!" it says that the school's attention is fixed on the athletes, and not on the academics. When the academic student of the month gets less praise from the school than the star of the basketball team, it sends a message. I don't think that message is positive.
This is my experience, as a teacher, with school sports. I have seen many students let their grades drop to almost nothing, and when I ask them what happened, as often as not, the answer is they are too busy, and 90% of the time, they are too busy because they have practice every night. Yes, there are students who fail because they work; yes, there are students who fail because they spend all of their time rehearsing for the play, and the majority of failing students are not the athletes. But there are many failures who are. I do not believe that the qualities of teamwork, cooperation, and competitive drive come only from sports, or that those qualities are more important than the cognitive abilites that schools should teach, and too often don't.
I happen to think that if schools did not support competitive sports, those sports would not vanish from our society. If schools do not teach students how to read and appreciate Shakespeare, however, that would vanish, and that loss would be more serious for our society than the loss of baseball would ever be.

P.S: How many people, in reading this, immediately thought that I was a geek/dork/loser in high school, and that I'm just jealous of the jocks? Doesn't that show something about our priorities?
 

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CoffeeSaint said:
I happen to think that if schools did not support competitive sports, those sports would not vanish from our society. If schools do not teach students how to read and appreciate Shakespeare, however, that would vanish, and that loss would be more serious for our society than the loss of baseball would ever be.

P.S: How many people, in reading this, immediately thought that I was a geek/dork/loser in high school, and that I'm just jealous of the jocks? Doesn't that show something about our priorities?
No matter what, kids are not going to get excited about accomplishments of the academic team or the mathletes. I know, I was one. I played sports until a social construct got in the way (hair length). I wasn't a star. I enjoyed the competition and exercise. I was a 4.0 GPA out of 4.0 also.

It's funny that you think students need to learn how to read Shakespeare. I am not sure if you mean that from reading a language no one speaks anymore or from the subjective pentamic iambeter style. Our entertainment today basically regurgitates the plots, subplots, and morals of his work. This is because he has been taught to be the holy grail of literature and drama. I still don't appreciate his stuff like you wish I would. Literature is subjective in nature. I still don't see how people can grade art classes either.lol

I didn't think about what you were in high school. I obviously don't share the same passions you do across the board. I am a musician so I do see value in the arts. I just don't believe everybody has to have the same taste. I don't think everybody should hold the same values either. To each their own.
 

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It's a fact that students who are athletes, on average, do better in both high school and college than students who are not.

In addition, it helps students learn time management, teamwork, and the value of hard work, not to mention the importance of staying physically active. My track coach had mandatory study hall every friday for an hour before practice where the entire team would sit in a hall in silence and do homework. Of the top ten graduates in my HS class, 9 were varsity athletes, most playing more than one sport.

Sports in HS give kids who might not be the best at one particular thing a chance to find something else that they excel at and can use to motivate themselves to work harder in school.

To this day, I never had such a formative bonding experience as I experienced on my HS Soccer team. And hell, it got me an extra couple grand in FA for college. :smile:
 

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So what do we do?

Couldn't we find ways to make it work?

Maybe limit how many hours a sports team can work out a week? Play a week? Travel a week?

Maybe limit how many sports a child can play at one time?

Not letting kids in sports leave academic classes to go work out or play?

If conferences made rules that all teams had to abide by, so that one team did not have the edge against another....wouldn't this work?
(So many games a month, grade point etc...)
 

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BTW, I know it is iambic pentameter. I just like pentamic iambeter better, lol
 

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doughgirl said:
So what do we do?

Couldn't we find ways to make it work?
I think it works quite well now.

Maybe limit how many hours a sports team can work out a week? Play a week? Travel a week?

Maybe limit how many sports a child can play at one time?
Well, kids are only allowed to participate in one varsity sport at a time in public school in NYS, so i dont think thats a problem. And the hour limit is dumb, why set such guidelines? Nobodys forcing the kid to do it. They'll just have a "captains practice" where the coach doesnt show up and they run it anyways. we did that every night before states for track and soccer.

Not letting kids in sports leave academic classes to go work out or play?
My school didnt allow that anyways, most don't as far as i Know.

If conferences made rules that all teams had to abide by, so that one team did not have the edge against another....wouldn't this work?
(So many games a month, grade point etc...)
I believe most do already, at the HS level. At the college level, its infinitely more detailed.
 
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