In Amanda Ripley’s article “The Case Against High-School Sports” she argues that sports are detrimental, and distracting to the United States education system; when in fact sports are valuable tools to motivate, teach, and encourage student athletes to make the right decisions. As a Senior Captain on the football team at my high school, I understand firsthand the effects sports have on academics. In my 4 years of high school, I have witnessed countless kids push to make grades to stay on their athletic team while only a handful have not succeeded and failed off. The passion that these kids have for their sports pushes them and motivates them to, at the very least, not fail their classes. While it motivates them to pass, the system may not motivate the children enough. The requirements for student athletes to stay on the field should be similar to college athletes, who have to maintain a cumulative GPA higher than their schools standards to stay eligible.
Ripley asks a question of her readers, “How would kids learn about grit, teamwork, and fair play?” and I ask the same question as well. In what way would the kids learn about camaraderie, teamwork, and how to sacrifice their own needs for the need of the group? Where else would the kids learn about discipline, their self-worth, and how hard work pays off? The teamwork and discipline skills taught in sports carry over into every aspect of life, no matter what career path taken. Along with the life skills gained from these experiences, sports give kids a way to build relationships with other kids similar to them, an opportunity not afforded in school.
A key point that Ripley fails to mention is the free time given to these student athletes, who in most cases, have never had this free time. They now have a gap in their life that could just as easily be filled with drugs, alcohol, or gang violence. Now not all children who have their sports taken away will turn to gangs, however schools in troubled districts may have kids at higher risk to get involved in illegal activity while not playing sports. On the other hand, as evident in the media, sports don’t always have the positive affect on violence and substance abuse that they claim to have. All in all, fundamentally, it is a bad decision to remove sports from American high schools because kids will lack the means to build teamwork, learn self-worth, discipline, and to better themselves as an individual and as part of a unit that works towards the greater good.