High school and college varsity sports have been considered a significant part of the American educational process for as long as the United States has been a developed country. The obsession with varsity athletics exploded after World War II when we became a super-power and the intensity and seriousness of sports reflected our world power status. This has led to the common belief that athletics contribute positively to the educational experience for all students. However, with recent economic perils upon us, it seems that there are growing demands to make budget cuts in every aspect of life, including leisure, and especially in sports. Many have made calls for change in the status quo to cut sports funding in schools while others have stood firm in the belief that sports contribute far too much to the educational process to be done away with.
First off, the arguments for cutting sports out of school district funds are a recent trend brought about by the dilemma of countless local government budget shortfalls. The argument that sports does not contribute to the educational process is a fiscal one that has take rout in the current economic downfall of the American economy. Regardless, these arguments are important to consider because they are valid and shine light onto the problems of connecting the school and sport environments into one.
The most common argument against funding for sports is that they lose money. A majority of sports programs in college and high school put more money into sports programs than they get out. This is especially true for the most popular sports like football and baseball that require the most coaches, equipment, and monetary demand from the athletic department. The expenses of all sports add up as there’s more than just the cost of coaches and equipment; there are travel expenses, training facilities, weight rooms, athletic training staff, maintenance to those facilities, and the cost of running such facilities among other things. This side argues that if schools didn’t support sports they could allocate resources into other areas of academia and advancement of the university/high school. Simply put, the school has too few participants in athletics benefiting from the experience; they could be using the money put into athletics for something that will benefit all students like on teachers, classrooms, and improvement of school materials in general.
Another argument that finds school sports are not correlated with the goals or education is the social perils it brings to a university or high school. Social classes and distinctions are at times entirely based on performance and participation of athletes rather than achievement in the classroom and social moral standards. The latter is said to be the entire goal of the academic experience for students beyond the actual educational experience alone. This argument holds that the social stratification of these environments provides athletes with privileges and superior advantages over other students that is once again based on performance and popularity. They argue that the special treatment of athletes and the funds supporting this social enigma have been caused by administrative approval without reason. This view holds that any positive effects of athletics can be gained outside of the school environment while avoiding the previously stated problems and providing for a better academic atmosphere toward achieving true education goals.
Conversely, those who support the idea that school sports positively correlate to a superior academic experience find that the long lasting connection between sports and school has existed for a reason. The academic experience is enhanced by all who have the opportunity to not only participate but also for those who are a part of athletics in any form.
To combat the other side’s first argument they hold that lack of funding and athletics costing more than they earn is not true for all schools and districts. The other side is said to have generalized an isolated issue and dramatized the amount of resources that are going into schools. Most school districts and colleges promote athletics because of the positive image it associates with their institution and the happiness it brings students associating with athletics. Furthermore, this side holds the position that any costs negatively associated with sports is paid back by the learning experience provided to the athletes and others collectively involved. The lessons taught by sports are commonly related to life experiences through studies and many business analogies. For those not directly involved with sports as athletes, the school to sport connection is said to benefit them by obtaining a positive environment and pride in their school and what it represents.
Moreover, sports do not encourage negative social stratifications in high school or college. They may isolate athletes and at times give them special permission to miss classes because of their events but this is made up for by the fact that athletes are held to a higher academic standard. This higher demand is said to be translated into all areas of life and improve time management skills more closely with the real world than non-student-athletes. The academic, athletic, and social demands prescribed for student-athletes at both the college and high school level is argued to create individuals that contribute to the overall academic goals of the institutions they attend. Positive effects of athletics can only contribute to the academic goals of a high school or college if they are directly associated with sports programs according to this argument. Doing away with sports programs would compromise these goals and leave other factors of social superiority for students to determine the most popular students. Even in the real world outside of school the general population puts individuals like athletes and celebrities on pedestals. This sides holds that human nature has formed the high schools and colleges they way they are today and if sports do not mold who these individuals are then some other factor will and these people will be treated with the exact same privilege as jocks are treated today. Thus, the problem of unfair and unequal treatment would not be solved but simply transferred to another determinative social factor.
In conclusion, the recent economic downfall has led to an argument against sports contributing to the overall educational environment of universities and high schools. It is important to consider arguments on both sides not to do away with sports or to continue with business as usual, but instead to make changes that will improve the overall goal of education in America. Sports associated with schools do contribute to educational environments but they also take things away from the overall experience intended to help shape young students into productive adults for society. There is no doubt that entertainment like sports will continue to be a significant part of the American culture but it is important to analyze the effects of this impact in order to continue to better our society.
- Motivation from Socialization (exactsports.com)
- The achievement culture problem in our country (kevinmd.com)
- Have You Ever Played a Team Sport? (fitsugar.com)