Think of school sports as a savings account.
For years and years, the program has made deposits in terms of trust and credibility. Students revered their coaches, often giving coaches credit for putting them on the path to good citizenship and a healthier lifestyle. For its focus on pure, wholesome, amateur, educational purposes, school sports has enjoyed unique standing in communities with large attendance at local contests and close, friendly attention by local newspapers and radio stations.
It is good that we built up a huge balance in our savings account of public trust and credibility, because we are making far too many withdrawals these days. For example:
- Every time we cut a youngster who wants to be a part of a high school team.
- When we eliminate a subvarsity team.
- When we drop a sport.
- When we add fees to participate.
- When we force a student to choose one sport over another or to choose athletics over the non-athletic activities of the school.
- When a crazed coach in some corner of our country does something foolish (like bite off the head of a frog) or something dangerous (like conduct practice in the heat of the day) or something illegal (like promote performance enhancing drugs or ignore hazing).
We need a renaissance of what people think about school sports, which I believe best comes with an old-fashioned revival that emphasizes our core values, including that interscholastic athletics are an extracurricular, education-supporting, school and community building program designed for the everyday (not elite) student-athletes of our schools to participate in a safe and secure environment under the supervision of an adult who is trained to know adolescents’ needs and is committed to putting those needs before winning.
That’s a great investment!