Step One to Fixing High Schools: Kill Sports

People love to bag on our educational system these days, but most of the solutions I see proposed seem to radically miss the point. The Atlantic has a short piece that gets a little closer to solving a piece of the problem: The ridiculous over-emphasis of sports in education.

"The Case Against Sports in High School," looks at the difference in sports in American high schools versus the rest of the world. We spend an inordinate amount of money on sports programs for high schools, and to what end? They only benefit a small number of students, and even the students that are part of sporting programs rarely derive any real lasting benefits from the programs – and even less educational benefit from the programs.

I find this from the article particularly galling:


To cut costs, the district had already laid off eight employees and closed the middle-school campus, moving its classes to the high-school building; the elementary school hadn’t employed an art or a music teacher in years; and the high school had sealed off the science labs, which were infested with mold. Yet the high school still turned out football, basketball, volleyball, track, tennis, cheerleading, and baseball teams each year.

Football at Premont cost about $1,300 a player. Math, by contrast, cost just $618 a student. For the price of one football season, the district could have hired a full-time elementary-school music teacher for an entire year. But, despite the fact that Premont’s football team had won just one game the previous season and hadn’t been to the playoffs in roughly a decade, this option never occurred to anyone.

Cut the arts, seal off the science labs, but keep the sports programs. WTF?

As also touched on in the article, the focus on athletics doesn't even extend to the entire student body or really even the student athletes after graduation. We focus on sports and winning, not the actual health benefits of being athletic or trying to help the entire student body be healthy. It's a little ironic how much our culture is focused on sports while simultaneously being extremely unhealthy and overweight.

Next time someone starts talking about fixing our educational system, suggest re-routing the money we spend on sports to education and see how that goes.

Author: Joe Brockmeier

Joe Brockmeier is a long-time participant in open source projects and former technology journalist. Brockmeier has worked as the openSUSE Community Manager, is an Apache Software Foundation (ASF) member, and participates heavily in the Fedora Cloud Working Group. Brockmeier works for Red Hat in the Open Source and Standards (OSAS) and manages the community team.

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