As a school superintendent I get asked the same question just about every year. Quite honestly, more than once. “Why do you spend so much money on sports and activities?”
This question has the tendency to fire me up. It fires me up because so many are naïve to the facts that encompass this question.
First, in respect to our entire budget sports and activities make up roughly 4% of it. This includes the salaries of individuals that coach or advise sports and activities.
Furthermore, and arguably the most important point to be made is the fact that sport and activity account for some of the best education that a school can offer. It is through sport and activity that students learn a whole gamete of life skills. It is here where they learn things such as perseverance, team-work, communication, commitment, and so much more. It is here where they develop lasting relationships that stand the test of time. It’s the one time in school where our students are not defined by a number or test score. It’s through sport and activity that many students discover their passions, interests, and abilities. They learn that academics (although important) do not solely define a well-rounded student.
Think about this for a second. You are about to hire for your business and you need to choose candidate A or candidate B. Candidate A is well rounded in Math, Science, English, and Social Studies but doesn’t have what Candidate B has. Candidate B is a team player, effective communicator, relationship builder, problem solver, innovator, and has an outstanding work ethic. However, Candidate B is not strong in Math, Science, English, or Social Studies. Whom would you choose?
Schools today tend to focus on Candidate A, however the world needs Candidate A and Candidate B. Sports and activities contribute to the education of the entire child. They allow for social and emotional development. And the world right now is craving this. We absolutely have a mental health crisis on our hands. Coupled with that, the majority of businesses around the country are telling us that students graduating from high school, colleges, and universities are not ready for the work force.
The world of work today is craving individuals that have high EQ (Emotional Intelligence). They are craving individuals that have strong work ethic, are team players, and are not afraid of failure. All of such are learned through sport and activity every single day in our nation’s schools. And in our case on about 4% of our entire budget. Talk about getting the best bang for your buck. We spend very little and the return on our investment is invaluable. Our students are our future. Not investing in their social and emotional learning would be a detriment to not only the students but our entire society.
And just a side note. I’m certain without sport and activity I wouldn’t be here today. Sport and activity gave me purpose. Without purpose we have nothing. Sport and activity saved my life and being in education over the course of the last 15 years I can tell you that it has saved many lives. Little investment with insurmountable returns. This is why we invest in sport and activity in our schools.
Now if you all go share this article and they share it and they share it and they share it and they share it…well you know….I may not get asked this question ever again . All joking aside – I don’t mind answering it. Educating the whole child is my passion and purpose and sport and activity continues to allow me to do just that.