Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What They Never Told You: Sports

There are so many things that those older than us do not say when we are children. One of those, something I plan on emphasizing greatly to my children (if I have children), is this:

The overemphasis of sports in middle and high schools is a joke. It's made to be the most important thing, leaving everything else behind to suffer. I went to a very small private school, which still offered numerous sports...resulting in most people in each grade playing at least 2 of the 3 sport seasons per school year. It wasn't suggested; it was expected. The ones who had played before and wanted a break were pressured to come back. The people--like me--who very determinedly said again and again that they weren't playing, were approached with guilt trips "but we need more people to have a full team."

The result, of course, was that the arts and academics both took a back burner for almost everyone in the school. This isn't about the arts, although that is an extremely long post waiting for another day--I'm an avid supporter of expanding opportunities for interested children to pursue the arts in school. This is about academics.

What they forgot to tell everyone in middle and high school, is that sports do not matter. Yes, they're fun to watch, or they're good exercise, or they teach team work, or whatever excuse you're using to push them that day... but of all the children that focus exclusively on sports to the decline of their academic studies, very few of them ever actually find a way to support themselves in any way with their game of choice.

On the other hand, focusing on becoming well-rounded academically (without necessarily being a nerd), is going to benefit you much more later in life. I've never met someone who spent time on bettering their mind and said that it was a waste. I've heard that plenty from people who focused on sports throughout their school years, only to have some part of their body give out in college.

So yes, focus on whatever interests you--pursue it. But at the end of the day, having cultivated intelligence is never going to let you down.

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