Becoming a well rounded member of society takes more than scholastic ability. School sports pay huge dividends in a teenagers development.
I can vividly remember the day my son came to live with me. For several years after our divorce my son had been living with his mother.
I could not believe how little self-esteem he had. He actually walked with his head down. This was not a good sign for a teenager about to begin high school. His grades in school had slipped quite a lot and he was no longer near the top of the class in academic standing.
He began his first high school year and one day he came home and said he had tried out for the basketball team and he was cut. He was more dejected that ever. I told him to go back the next day and talk to the coach about being a manager for the team. He would be responsible for getting the water etc. for the other players, but at least he was with the team and was able to practice with them even though he never played that first year.
It was the beginning of an amazing transformation.
The next year he tried again and made the basketball team. The folowing year he made the junior football team. His last two years he was a starter with the senior football team and was an important contributor as the team won the city championships both those years. With every athletic success, his overall demeanor changed. He has part of something. He was part of a team. He was needed.
I can’t remember exactly when he started to walk with his head up high. I believe it was the year he made the basketball team. At the same time his grades improved dramatically. He became an honor student and once again was at the top of his class. He went on to win a football scholarship to a junior U.S. college.
Today he is a confident, bright, caring man who works with street kids.
When I read about school districts wanting to cut sports programs to save money I cringe. I can’t imagine what they must be thinking. Organized sports have so much to offer. What an amazing way to instill confidence, teamwork and leadership into a teenager. It can be a chess club or the football team. Whatever it is, I truly believe that simply attending classes is simply not enough to round out a teenager in the formative years.
Parents, if your son or daughters school even mentions cutting out sports programs, I would start marching to city hall.
Students without this opportunity to grow are the ones who would suffer most in the long term.
I often wonder what would have become of my son if he had been deprived of the opportunity to at least try and find out what he was truly capable of.