Before I get started, I'd like to say I think school sports are important. I think every school should offer them and every parent should encourage their children to try them. Not only do they help children stay fit, they encourage teamwork and help develop a sense of responsibility...
With that being said, if some things in schools need to be cut, sports make sense.
Dropping sports is being considered by various districts across the nation (not ours, by the way, so please don't inundate them with furious calls to keep their sport programs going). While some people have gotten up-in-arms about this course of action, all I can say is this -
School is for academics. Students go there to learn. Sports and other extra-curricular activities are nice, and to some degree they are important, but they are not what school is about.
I think parents, students and sometimes coaches forget this fact. Last year, I attended a meeting focused on spending for sport teams. The conference room was filled with parents angry that a certain team did not get its uniforms on time.
All I could think was, "Why don't parents get this motivated to fight for academics?"
When issues surrounding the actual education of our children arise, parents are more than happy to leave the decisions up to administrators and complain about it later. But when a sports team is threatened with cuts - now that is a crime!
Like I said, I don't think sports need to be cut. I don't think they ought to be cut. But I do wish more parents would be just as passionate for their student's actual academics.
And for that matter, coaches, too.
I am going to qualify this by saying the vast majority of coaches are diligent about making sure their athletes are achieving good grades, but I know of at least one coach who permitted one of their students to participate in the program for a whole quarter when that student was failing nearly all (if not all) of her classes...
I can officially say I was never so infuriated with a coach in my life. These afterschool programs can be used as an incentive to get students to achieve in class, but that coach's decision to ignore those failing grades put that girl's academic career at risk. No matter how hard she works, that quarter will always be there.
Being involved in sports is a privilege, not a right - it is something to do in addition to, not instead of academics.
Maybe if more people recognized this we'd have more parents who are upset over classroom size and outdated books, not uniforms.