Non- Sporting Schools
Sports are a huge component of our world. Sports have whole websites, magazines, television channels, podcasts, radio shows, and more dedicated just to them. If you look up sports in a dictionary, it will say this: “An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.
” This is a good starting point for a definition, but words can hardly capture the vastness and importance of sports in our lives. Even if you are someone who does not play or follow sports, you have doubtlessly been affected by sports in some way, be it small or large. Maybe you have watched one of the ten major professional sports leagues in the U.S. and Canada alone, not to mention the uncountable number of sports leagues being broadcasted into the U.
S. on a daily basis. Needless to say, sports are an important aspect of modern society. However, if sports are so important, why are some schools without sports teams? One example of this comes from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where students do not have middle school sports teams to play on. Why in a district where they can afford to give each kid his or her own instrument can they not have sports? The reasons are not as much monetary as they are moral. I spoke to somebody who talked with Chris Aufiero, the athletic director of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, about the lack of middle school sports teams.
He said, “We do not have the teams, because we would have to cut kids (from the teams). We don’t believe that this is appropriate in middle school.” This is a fair point, but this issue could easily be solved. At the high school, they usually have a varsity team, a junior varsity team, and sometimes even a freshman team for each sport. This system could be implemented in the middle schools, so that children receive the full benefit of sports without being cut from teams.
If all the schools developed varsity and junior varsity teams, the varsity teams could play each other, and the junior varsity teams could play each other. Look ahead to if this were instituted: it would be the best of all worlds, with all the benefit of playing the sports, a competitive and a more non-competitive environment, and nobody has to be cut from the teams. This would certainly be better than no sports at all. In addition to all of this, sports are physically and mentally healthy for children. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
If more children exercised and played sports, this rate would immediately be lowered. Exercise can also reduce anxiety in a child, depression symptoms, increase self-esteem, improve a child’s self-image, and help them better cope with stress. Even Michelle Obama, the First Lady, is encouraging healthy exercise. She said, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation..
. is at stake. This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved. So, let’s move.” How are children supposed to be healthy and “move” with no sports? I’m no doctor, but I say that in a country where our youth obesity rate is 19%, sporting activities should be encouraged.
To see how increased exercise and movement has affected children and their fitness, we can get a strong example from Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In 2009, Fitchburg had the second highest youth obesity rate in Massachusetts. Noticing the connection between obesity and the three highest causes of death in America, (cancer, heart disease, and stroke) the government of Fitchburg took steps to reduce the youth obesity rate. To do this, they increased health food guidelines for vendors and food sellers, and more importantly, they made parks for kids to play sports in. Over the next year, people began to see a difference in the youth obesity rates for Fitchburg.
By 2011, Fitchburg was no longer the town with the state’s second highest youth obesity rate. In fact, the youth obesity rate had dropped by 10%. This is an incredible change, especially in just two years, and shows exactly how healthy and positive sports are for kids. In addition to healthy exercise, sports also can help children spend their time and effort wisely after school, instead of in more negative and hurtful ways. A recent study shows that 20%-25% Cambridge middle school students have tried alcohol, which is a surprisingly high figure.
If children had sports and fitness to influence their time and decisions, perhaps this rate would drop. Also, many Cambridge public school children go home from school to empty houses. This sometimes leads students to engage in unhealthy behavior to keep themselves occupied, such as watching television and eating unhealthy food. All of these scenarios could be eliminated, if sports were implemented into the Cambridge public middle schools. All in all, adding sports to schools can only improve the morale and fitness of children.
The fitness benefits are obvious, and with youth obesity rates at 19%, exercise would be great for the children. To see how this has worked, we can look to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where the advantages of sports for children has already been showcased. In addition to this, if all the schools developed varsity and junior varsity teams, Cambridge could have a multi-level sports program, which meets the needs and skill levels of all children. The only question is: with statistics and ideas like these, why would any school not have sports?