I have attended every book club meeting at my school. I’ve never missed a National Honor Society meeting, a Math Honor Society meeting, a Social Studies Honor Society meeting, or a Latin Honor Society meeting. But when I tell people that I’ve never attended a high school football game, I am always asked the same question: what’s wrong with you?
What’s wrong with me? Let’s take a look at what’s wrong with America’s schools first. China, Korea, Finland, and numerous other countries are crushing us in terms of test scores – especially in subjects like math and science. One out of every three fourth graders is at a below basic reading level, while more than 67% of fourth graders are not reading at grade level at all. Athletic scholarships abound while hardworking Honor Roll students earning perfect SAT scores have to work at Walmart and McDonald’s just to make ends meet.
Tell me how throwing a football will help solve our country’s financial problems and save us from going over the fiscal cliff. Tell me how kicking a soccer ball will ameliorate our country’s failing mental health system. Tell me how slamming a tennis serve will solve our country’s foreign face offs in the Middle East. Tell me how anything related to pure physical achievement will allow our society to make great strides, or how it will propel our country to prosperity.
I’m not anti-athletics. I understand the value of sports in that they encourage exercise, promote teamwork, and provide entertainment. As a member of the tennis team and a proponent of several professional tennis players, I see that sports are not inherently evil. But why do we need sports in our education system? As one commenter noted in this Yahoo! article, why can we not have Little League teams or Minor League teams to train athletes for professional teams? Why should the star football player be the “big man on campus” while the gifted intellectual struggles day and night for successes that could save our country?
I hope this post doesn’t sound too caustic. I’m just upset over the recent rape case that has overtaken the town of Steubenville, Ohio, where members of their community have tried to cover up for the suspected rapists involved – beloved football players who have now been labeled the “Rape Crew”. Maybe if those guys had read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson or learned about human dignity after a discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird, things would have gone down differently.