Pro/Con: Should sports be eliminated from high schools?

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Justine Do-Huynh (Pro) and Monica Dang (Con)

Pro

Students have always been given the opportunity to explore their horizons in high school. Sports are one of the highlighted choices provided by most schools, but how beneficial are they?

For one thing, the costs to actually fund sports are ridiculously high. Money goes towards equipment, maintenance of fields, pools, tracks and coaching salaries. All of this money could be spent on educational needs such as books, teaching equipment, and computers.

In the article “The Case Against High-School Sports” by Amanda Ripley and featured in the October 2013 issue of “The Atlantic,” she reveals that “Football… costs about $1,300 a player. Math, by contrast, costs just $618 a student.”

Although it is believed that selling admission tickets and $2 snacks every Friday night helps fund these high costs, they really do not. The school has to find other means to help fund athletes such as cutting back on different departments and supplies and even, in extreme measures, cutting jobs.

“Officials in Pasco County, Florida, have agreed to cut about 700 educational jobs and extend winter break, but sports have been left mostly untouched,” Ripley said in her article.

Sports not only take money from a school’s budget, but it also drains a considerable amount of a student’s time and energy. Practices last from two to three hours and oftentimes will run into the evening hours. Many students may not arrive home until eight o’clock. Although some may argue that those who participate in sports are more organized and know how to prioritize their workload, for many athletes sleep is the trade off.

“Right after practice I’m tired and I just lie on my bed until I force myself to do homework, but since practice ends so late I try to stay up to do homework,” junior Thanh Le said. “I don’t always finish all of the homework that I have to do.”

Instead of having to worry about these problems, sports should simply be cut so that schools can focus on what schools are meant for: learning. To be honest, not many high school sports stars will move on to work professionally in their field of “expertise” and so it is always good to have a back up plan, which should be education. Still, many high school athletes think the odds are in their favor.

“In baseball 11.6 percent of college players play professionally, 0.6 percent of high school players [play professionally], in football 1.7 percent of college players play professionally, 0.08 percent of high school [play professionally], and in men’s basketball 1.2 percent of college players play professionally, 0.03 percent of high school players [play professionally],” journalist Tony Manfred said in “Here Are the Odds That Your Kid Becomes a Professional Athlete.”

Aside from the time and mental exhaustion, sports can do much more damage physically, as athletes suffer countless injuries every season. Improper care of these injuries can lead to problems that can last a lifetime.

According to “Youth Sports Safety Statistics,” “High school athletes suffer two million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.”

One of the more frequent and lasting injuries that can occur are concussions. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that can alter the way the brain functions and are caused by a bump or blow to the head or body. Any person can suffer from a concussion, but it is more common for contact sport players.

In the article “Concussion Statistics for High School Sports,” journalist Lindsay Barton says that “High school athletes sustain an estimated 136,000 to 300,000 concussions per year.”

Concussions can lead to lasting effects on the brain. Even when the immediate symptoms are gone, the brain will still have symptoms of memory and attention deficits.

Instead of focusing on the upcoming football game with the cross-team rival, students should turn their full attention to the real reason they are in school: to get an education.

Con

Imagine high school without athletics.  Imagine that there would be no football, baseball, wrestling, soccer, track, basketball, tennis, or swimming.  It’s unthinkable to the majority of students and staff but this possibility has already become reality for some students in high schools all over the United States.

Some American students, staff, and civilians alike believe there is a connection between the United States not having the top global results in exams/academics and this country’s unique attention to sports.  After all, Shanghai students are ranked higher than the U.S. on a global math test and they don’t have school athletics.   These people believe that athletics hinder academics and should be banned, but American high schools should not ban sports because the benefits achieved outweigh the costs.

One understandable reason why some people advocate a high school sports ban is that athletics simply cost too much money—money that they believe could be spent someplace else such as buying calculators or textbooks.  The estimated cost of LUSD’s athletics program is $1,112,827.  Although this amount may seem daunting and wasteful to most, people must take in consideration the numerous student-athletes participating in all sports in multiple schools in the LUSD.  At just Bear Creek, approximately 272 athletes who participated in fall sports.  The number is similar to other schools in LUSD.  This large amount of money is well spent for the health benefits, life-lessons, and academic incentives it provides.

Those who wish to ban high school sports should consider that sports offers many health benefits.  Adolescent obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and high school sports serve as a means to combat this trend.  From swimming to wrestling practices, teenagers are provided more opportunities to exercise and maintain their health as well as to get in the habit of exercising regularly as they grow older.  These habits of staying fit can reduce risks of heart disease that stem from weight gain acquired through insufficient exercise.

Besides money, people add further fuel to the fire of banning high school sports by arguing that sports take too much time from studies after school as well make students too tired to pay attention in class.  One thing that is possible is the fact that high school students will always be tired regardless the presence of athletics.  In fact, a good workout can lead to increased energy and focus.

In fact, high school sports could benefit students academically.To participate in sports, athletes must maintain a 2.0 gpa.  This requirement alone serves as an incentive for students to apply themselves who otherwise wouldn’t care.

In addition, athletics teach student how to manage their time more wisely since two to four hours are spent on games and practices every schoolday, athletes have no choice but to be mindful of time-constraints—a skill essential in both college and life.

Playing sports in high school can also nurture college-level athletes.  According to NCAA.org, the number of NCAA athletes have surpassed 450,000 in 2012-2012, adding up to be 453,347—almost half a million.

More common, however, is that school athletics teach high school students morals and teamwork that are extremely beneficial in the “real world.”  In being part of a team that goes through the same obstacles and challenges with the same dedication and commitment, student-athletes are provided a unique community in which they learn how to work together to achieve success.

High school sports give students unique experiences in which they learn the value of hard work, perseverance, dedication, and teamwork—which will ultimately benefit them in their workplace.  It is the student-athlete’s decision whether or not to emphasize the student or the athlete in “student-athlete,” not others.