Time to End High School Sports?
The central mission of public education is to teach the skills necessary to contribute to the global society. Then how do high school athletics fit in?
Here are four reasons why high school athletics may not fit into the mission of public education.
Reason 1: Across the country, school districts face a money shortage. Athletics, for all the good that can come from them, add to the financial burden. For instance, a school that has Football, Soccer (boys' and girls'), Volleyball, Tennis (boys' and girls'), Cross-Country, Basketball (boys' and girls'), Swim (boys' and girls'), Bowling, Wrestling, Baseball, Softball, Track (boys' and girls'), and Golf (boys's and girls') has 19 Varsity head coaches. On average, let's assume a salary of 3,000 per coach. That is $57,000. Then, add in the cost of Junior Varsity coaches for each of those sports. At a salary of a modest 1,500, that would be $28,500. But, some of these programs have a third or even fourth coach for Freshman/C-Team participants. I'll estimate five such coaches at the J.V. salary for an additional $7,500. The total output: $93,000.
But that number fails to account for insurance, maintenance, equipment, transportation, supervision, janitorial, referees, Athletic Directors (a plush position at both the school and Central Office--leading to secretarial needs, etc.)
Athletics cost money. Too much money, perhaps.
Reason 2: Climate. No, not the one that Al Gore is worried about. As select--and I use that word somewhat facetiously--teams for every sport have risen in popularity, student athletes have grown accustomed to climate of select sports. The truth is that if you have some skill, and pay a good amount of money, those coaches will remind you often how good you really are. Those heavy doses of praise--without regard to accuracy--cause student athletes to expect the same treatment from high school coaches. So, when a high school coach doesn't see that players terrific swing or killer cross-over, that coach is labled as ignorant.
Reason 3: Accountability. Ultimately, as Central Offices hoard power and control, they look to hold others accountable for perceived failures. So, when a parent complains to the Athletic Director about her son's playing time, or how the coach yelled at her son, Central Offices feel the need to hold someone accountable. Well, it certainly isn't the parent--who failed to follow communication protocol, or the student-athlete who slacks off during drills. No, because parents have loud voices, and time to kill, they are the ones who get heard. Therefore, Central Offices are quick to get rid of coaches--or good coaches decide the money isn't good enough.
Reason 4: Entitlement. Today's student athletes feel entitled. They are part of the "self-esteem" generation where everyone plays and everyone wins. Working hard to improve--sure, if it's a video game. Accepting a coach's decision--yeah, if they're in the game.
The story's been told, but I'll mention it again here. Michael Jordan, yes, that Jordan, was cut from his basketball team as a sophomore. That seemed to work out okay for him, because his sense of entitlement came from an understanding that to be the best, one must earn it.
Four reasons. Maybe they aren't the strongest, but they are the ones I thought of. Two weeks from now, maybe I'll change my mind about high school athletics.
Reason 5: One word: Parents.