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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

The Atlantic's case against high school sports



I finally read The Atlantic’s recent cover story, “The Case Against High School Sports,” which includes a quick shout-out to Pasco County, and the magazine’s counter-point, “High School Sports Aren’t Killing Academics.”

The anti-sports story repeats the arguments you’ve heard before:

* Schools place too much of an emphasis on athletics

* District waste too much money on sports instead of using that money for academics

* Schools in other countries don’t have high school sports, and their kids do better on tests

* Coaches focus on coaching and not enough on teaching

I think those points are worthy of community discussion, even if I disagree on the last part.

To me, the most interesting argument was this: High school sports are bad for those who don’t play them. It cites a study on the University of Oregon that showed that when the Ducks’ football team did well, the men on campus got poorer grades.

Although the boys and girls who play high school sports learn life lessons and get good exercise, those benefits don’t apply to those who don’t play them. The majority of students still have to go to school earlier, to allow for daylight hours for football practice, and have money spent on helmets or basketballs instead of books.

The other article (which you can read here) torches some of those arguments. If you clicked on a blog devoted to high school sports, I can guess where you stand on this issue, but feel free to sound off below.

I think the anti-sports article ignored or downplayed the positive parts of high school athletics. Kids who play them usually have higher grades and are less likely to drop out of school or attempt suicide. Teams give kids a safe place with positive mentors and teach life lessons like teamwork and competition. Even those who don’t participate have the opportunity (regardless of whether they take it) to enjoy the community involvement and school spirit.

As for the argument that sports hurts academics for everyone else, consider the grades for the 22 public schools with football teams ranked in our top 25: 7 A's, 10 B's, 4 C's and 1 D. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 1:29pm]


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