In what will be a three part series, Sports Wise Guys plans on revealing how your tax dollars are spent on high school athletics. We will also get into the issue of whether a higher priority is set on athletic achievement over educational.
Today's post, Part One of our series, will outline my opinion on the subject of high school athletics as it pertained and pertains to me and my experiences.
Part One : My Opinion and Yours
Next time -----> Part Two : Athletic Achievement Is Greater Than Educational Achievement
I have played sports since I was about five years old. My dad was a strong believer in using sports as a way to stay active and healthy. I never looked at sports as an end to a mean. And by that I mean, it was always a dream to become a professional basketball player, but in reality, who's going to want a 6'2" 230 pound white kid running the point? I knew I was never going to make it in professional sports and that I didn't have to to become successful. Kids, especially the unfortunate ones in the inner city high schools, have nothing else to work towards other than an athletic scholarship. Now I don't mean to make a sweeping generalization about inner city high schools that the only way they get out of the ghetto is through sports, but that's reality. You will not find a lot of kids shooting for an academic scholarship. This mentality needs to change and quickly. Too many kids are fed a dream of grandeur, the mansion, the cars, the wealth, and the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Not only are these dreams fed by family, but far too many times by their own teachers, who should instead be teaching these kids how to read and write at a high school level. In addition to the failure of some schools to instill a high education expectation, these programs suck up money some schools need to buy the necessities for their kids to learn properly.
My realization that something was wrong with how public tax dollars were spent at my school occurred when my Spanish teacher could not allow us to take our books home. We could not take our books home because there was not enough books so all the kids taking Spanish could take them home. Not only that, we had teachers without classrooms, floaters were what they were referred to, and this was after we had a huge addition to our high school. Now, I'm all for school athletics, it keeps kids out of trouble for the most part, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and gives the student body a reason to have some school spirit (I hated typing that). However, I don't think that our education should suffer because of athletics. The athletes always had a bus to get to games and they always had new uniforms every year. Why can't I have a new textbook, or at least one I can take home? Why does my teacher not have a room to prepare her or his lesson plans for the day. Only 20% of the the average high school student body par take in athletics, only less than 1% make it to a professional level in a sport. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm pretty sure more kids in those student bodies are going to get a 4 year degree from an accredited university. And I am also pretty sure it would be much easier for this students to do so if they had better learning materials and better instruction.
My former high school had over $20,000 budgeted for supplies for student activities, which I could only assume included sports. I could find no specific referral to the athletic department in their budget. A tenth of that ( $2,000 ) was budgeted for community service supplies which in my eyes would serve the local community a great deal more than any football game that's played. If more people knew this, do you think they would start asking more questions? I would sure hope so. If my kid isn't playing a sport, why should I be paying for it? Some people would counter this question with another question, "Well, what about Key Club or the Math Team? You're paying for those student activities and your kid isn't in them." In that case, my response would be, "That may be true, but what would carry more weight on a college application? That you were a bench warmer on the basketball team or that you were on a Math Team?" Education will always take precedence over athletics in the real world because it allows more opportunities when you enter it. For me, Mary Tedrow, a National Board certified teacher and former student-athlete said it best,
"What would happen if resources for sports were removed from schools and consolidated into single sporting complexes where we supported community teams? When education funds are no longer diverted to transportation, uniforms, and maintaining interest in sports, both the energy and resources could be used to improve instruction. As a result, kids might actually want to come to school, not to play ball, but because the increased attention to instruction will help every student succeed and find a skill to translate into a lifetime of learning and earning."
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