Athletics deserve schools’ support

Posted Jan. 02, 2009, at 11:11 p.m.

We are in the midst of the financial revolution, nationally and around the world. Add this to the Enlightenment, the Industrial, the Informational and all the other revolutions that have reshaped history.

We all get the chance to readjust. If we select the correct path, we will all be better for it. If not, we all will pay the price.

Sports are not to be left out of this revolution, including high school sports.

Ernie Clark’s column in the BDN Friday discussed the issue of financing school sports in this time of decreasing budgets.

With any luck we will take this discussion as a time to reexamine the issue of school sports, right the ship and sail to a safe harbor — with the kids on board.

In 1993 the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development issued a study entitled, “Overview of Youth Sports Programs in the United States.” It is worth rereading.

The study cited the long advanced theories as to why sports should exist for youth in the first place, including “a sense of affiliation, a feeling of confidence in one’s physical abilities, the appreciation of one’s personal health and fitness and the development of social bonds with individuals and institutions.”

The study also examined the negatives. The win- at- all-costs moral disintegration, the measuring of competence only in terms of winning and the harm done where the adult leadership (coaches and parents) lacks quality.

Not much has substantively changed in terms of considering secondary sports programs. It’s the availability of dollars that has changed. (I would suggest, parenthetically, that even that is subject to debate. There’s so much money sitting around in this country, even if concentrated among a small percentage of the populace that it makes your head spin.)

I digress. If we believe the positive aspects of sports for youth exists and we can control the negatives, then as part of the educational system we should fund programs that provide the most opportunities to the largest number of students. This should be part of the educational system — not to win titles or feed coaching egos.

Sports participation is to enhance academic and social growth of the student with academic success a precursor to athletic participation.

That means no pay-to-play, no buy your own uniforms, and no booster clubs that have to fund the sports with cookie sales. If sports are a proper part of the educational system, then we all pay the ticket in the same way we should ensure that no child ever has to buy a text book or pay a fee to take a lab.

We owe that to our kids, ourselves and our nation.

If we find sports lacking in achieving these objectives, then we do not fund sports as part of the educational system.

We are at a national crossroad that invites this discussion as part of the remaking of this society. Let this be a time to open the doors wide and not simply be stuck on the monetary matters.

Those who want society to provide them with everything and want to pay nothing can be heard bellowing loud at this point. They will see it as a time to criticize anything, including scholastic sports, from which they derive no direct benefit.

Don’t let the discussion end, or even begin there. The issue of sports in our schools deserves a full hearing.

bdnsports@bangordailynews.net

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