Sports in School

Schools spend entirely too much time, effort and money on sports, period. Take a second to gasp in horror and “Well I never!” and so on and so forth; now pay attention. I just said that schools spend too much of everything on sports, not that sports are evil and should be eradicated from the face of the planet. There are good ideas and logic behind sports programs, and there are certainly numerous benefits to them. However, everyone is completely ignoring their problems and downfalls, and that is becoming the biggest problem of all.

Let’s start with the increasing numbers of athletes using drugs. Drug tests are slowly becoming mandatory in America’s schools, but let’s stop and think for a second. The drugs that have turned up so far are things like steroids, speed, pain and anxiety pills, and marijuana. Now, why would young, vibrant athletes even think about resorting to such measures? They have their whole lives ahead of them, and they are all very talented in their respective sports. Ask yourselves instead why they are so good with athletics and how much of those “lives” they have to spend to be star players. Go a step further and ask the coaches, or even some of the pushy parents! Practice makes perfect, isn’t that the saying? That’s where everyone is wrong! Only perfect practice makes perfect, and it is that perfection for which all the schools are pushing. They are constantly approving extended, more frequent practices, more physically taxing workouts and sometimes even a boot camp-type routine, and all for the sake of being the best! Do you know what that is costing those teens? Sleep and rest, which their bodies need desperately; the physical health it appears they should have because of constant physical strain, and sometimes even their lives!

These young adults are in constant states of pain and fatigue, and far too many have died in practices and on fields because of over-exertion and heat strokes! And the few who don’t suffer such dire consequences take on their punishment in the form of academic failure. This is a problem easily remedied, but the “remedies” are far beyond satisfactory. Teachers are bending the rules for these athletes, and while I do think they deserve a break somewhere, I do not think it should be in their schoolwork! Instead of being excused from assignments and practically handed grades that will allow them to keep playing, practices should be cut shorter and reduced in the number of days per week so they can rest and recuperate! They need to be allowed the time finish a little more homework or attend tutoring! And most importantly, that extra time just might keep one more teen alive!

Though the athletes are admittedly the ones who, as individuals, are suffering the worst of “Sports Fever” in schools, there are many others who feel the heat as well. Music and drama programs nationwide are sweating because of the funding they lose each year to the athletics departments. That is damned disgusting! There are more important things in life than sports, and there are people who are interested in those things! I was under the impression that school was a place where our children could not only receive an upstanding education, but also explore themselves and their interests, find activities that are right for them and blossom into young men and women with various dreams and endless opportunities. Yet it seems that all teenagers are learning now is that sports are everything, and that without sports you are nothing! Students are starting to think that if you just get involved in athletics nothing else will matter, especially stupid schoolwork, and that you can just coast through life because of the grueling physical punishment suffered perpetually. No other programs are deemed important enough in which to invest any time or money. Even parents are starting to become brainwashed, and a trip to a ball game and choir recital in the same week at the same school will prove my point. Schools don’t care about the students as individuals anymore. They don’t even care as much about test scores, so long as their team is at the top of the sports ladder and on the front page of every local newspaper. I suppose that is my fault though for just assuming something which is complete common sense for those rare, dedicated and supportive teachers would be also for school boards and coaches. So perhaps I should apologize for such an absurd assumption.

Folks, when are we going to learn? How many more kids have to become addicted to drugs because they literally can no longer perform without them? How many more will barely scrape by in high school by way of bypassed assignments and end up dropping out of college? How many more have to die? And will we ever remember that we gave birth to people, not programmable robots? Will we ever consider putting just a little extra support into the other school programs in which our children just might be interested? Or are we forever spinning in an out of control athletic tornado that will eventually destroy everything in its path? Sports should be competitive but fun; physically challenging but not fatal, and never a distraction from schoolwork! At that point, it is nothing but a poisonous hindrance for which very soon we will lose the antidote.