In this article from Alabama, the conclusions drawn demonstrate how limiting it is for the community as a whole to have sports tied only to school, and the illogic of thinking only in terms of ‘school and not-school’ instead of community.Â The excerpts from the interview were framed in terms of the initial question, “Q. What were some of the problems concerning high school sports you heard about or tried to address as national president?”
- The Birmingham News, Birmingham, Alabama, 16 July 2006, Year with NFSHSA highlight of careerÂ Â Â Â
Q. What about home-schooled athletes who want a law to let them play public-school sports?Â Â Â
A. This is a hot political issue. The old theory in the opinion of some people is that participation in athletics and extracurricular activities is a guaranteed right. But our opinion is that is not a guaranteed right.
I understand that the rules aboutÂ any activity are couched in the set-up surrounding the activity, so that an activity allied with ‘school’ will be developed in terms of ‘school.’Â But should that be the point of sports-for-teens?Â And in addition to that, what is the point of school sports?Â Seriously.Â Teen participation in games and sporting activities I understand, but the school-connection is where I’m wobbly.
If the point of school sports is activity and fitness, shouldn’t the field be open to all the kids in the school?Â And shouldn’t this be a focus in light of the weight gain of people in general over the decades?Â I look back at photos of high school groups in the 1960s, and we were a bunch of skinny minnies (except for Stuart, who was a really, big, guy).Â There were no organized programs, social focuses (foci?), or otherwise, to keep us skinny. Â I guess we just had more things to actively do back then, and fewer things to inactively do.Â So if the point of school sports is to keep kids active, shouldn’t the expenditure of all that taxpayer money for the facilities, the training and the equipment be usedÂ to benefit all the kids — at least all the ones in the school, if not in the community?
But, maybe that’s the point of the ‘beloved‘ P.E. class, and not the sports teams.
So, if fitness isn’t the point of having a school sports team, perhaps it’sÂ the English-model of sports competitionÂ within schools?Â No, not completely.Â The American-model seems to have eclipsed its possible predecessor, which has moreÂ of an intra-mural feel,Â a la Harry Potter and quidditch, although the purity of the Harry Potter intra-muralÂ model is diluted by the Tri-wizard Tournament between the schools Hogwarts, BeauxbÃ¢tons and Durmstrang.
So what is the point?Â School spirit?Â And what’s the point of that?Â Really.Â
The concept ofÂ ’school spirit’ baffled me whenÂ my family moved back to America when I was in high school.Â Â The overseas school had no other American schools in competition with it so ‘spirit’Â was a conceptÂ that was absent from our sporting life.Â When I had toÂ mandatorily attend my first pep rally at my new American school,Â the whole spirit mystique mystified me.Â It was like watching a quaint tribal ritual.Â I remember asking someone why certain girls all wore the same purple outfits on Fridays and sat together at the rallies.Â It turned out they were in something called aÂ ’pep club.’Â Oh.Â IÂ joined itÂ the nextÂ year, attempting to break into the social circle, I suppose.Â There were no obvious benefits to membership, andÂ one or twoÂ drawbacks (rules about behavior while ‘in uniform’), so I didn’t repeat the experiment.
The point of competitive sports within the school system is, for the time being, moot.Â We’ve got the structure, it’s well entrenched, and, in Alabama, it’s not a “guaranteed right.”
- Athletics are earned rights from going through the same rigors and facing that same faculty on a day-to-day basis and earning that eligibility from the same people. Then you are comparing apples to apples. It is hard to compare a child who is home-schooled and his academic progress which is judged by, say, his mother, to those who face the same faculty members every day.
Aha!Â It’s a reward for endurance!Â I should have kept reading.
- Also, how do I discipline a child who is home-schooled compared to one in regular school? When a home-schooled kid misbehaves at a Tuesday night basketball game and throws a chair up in the stands, he doesn’t report to a principal the next morning, he reports to his mother.
I hardly know where to start with this particular excerpt, but theÂ vision of an angry playerÂ on the sidelinesÂ hurling chairsÂ at people inÂ the stands is certainly a compelling place to begin.Â Has this coachÂ hadÂ so manyÂ rage-fueled players that he expects even homeschooled kids to throw chairsÂ at the audience?Â Really?Â This exampleÂ isn’t just hyperbole orÂ the coach’sÂ overactive imagination, it’s his model of how players behave? Â What has happened to school sports since I last sat in the stands thirty-plus years ago chanting,Â to the insistent pom-pom beatÂ of the cheerleaders,Â ”Hey, hey, whaddya say!Â Take that ball the other way!”
In addition to a tolerance for seriously anti-social behavior (what kind of ‘socialization’ does his school foster?), this particular excerpt also shows a lack of imagination on the part of the staff.Â The thing to do with any strong athletic person whoÂ throws chairs – not the basketball (maybe this is PE from hell?) –Â at others (I’m still in shock)Â is to boot that person off the team!Â Goodbye, don’t let the door hit you, and don’t come back!Â Â Â I’d certainly not allow such a rage-prone individual back into the building on Wednesday morning, only to merely “report toÂ a principal.”Â I’d have someone like that reporting to the police, and then rewardÂ a lesser playerÂ who hasÂ better exhibition manners with a spot on the team.
- We may have a child here who is struggling and can’t seem to make it academically, but the parent wants him to play so they could just take him out of school and home-school him and pass him and that makes him eligible – even though he has not proven he can do the academic work.
And we may also have aÂ player who is struggling and can’t seem to make it academically, but the coach wants him to play, soÂ he just puts Ricky (a cute team captain)Â next to Mary (an honor society member)Â during tests so he could cheat off herÂ so he couldÂ stay on theÂ team.Â Scout’s honor — I got it straight from Mary at a reunion years later.Â She laughed at me because I didn’t know.Â Â Out-crowd people, even in classes of only 150 kids,Â are always the last to know.Â Â The coach’s effort to keep Ricky at aÂ B-averageÂ didn’t matter much becauseÂ the same coach bogarted the seniorsÂ during the ’67 season leaving the new captains for ’68, and most of the team, untried and inexperienced.Â In ’67 we almost took Conference.Â In ’68 we fell on our faces.Â That, I knew about.Â I was a ’68 grad.Â So was Ricky.
Which brings up the idea that if sports are to be both a reward for classroomÂ endurance, and to be limited to the best scholars, shouldn’t theÂ honor rollÂ members be the ones on the teams?Â Or maybe the science club members?Â We couldn’t have done worse on the gridiron that year, I can tell you that.
The motivations that seem to underlie the reasons why homeschooled kids shouldn’t play school sports are all mixed up.Â I don’t think homeschooled kidsÂ should play public school sportsÂ because, by doing so, homeschoolers are pulled into public school politics, and I think sports should beÂ either a private or aÂ community activity not a school activity,Â but I think that’s fairly straightforward.
Because of the mixed reasons,Â I still wonder what the point of high school sports is.Â Â Sports aren’t practicedÂ for general fitness.Â Â Sports apparentlyÂ aren’tÂ for character development (chairs?Â thrown?).Â Â SportsÂ really aren’tÂ motivators for good grades.Â So whatÂ are they for?Â Entertainment?Â Bragging rights?Â “Socialization?”Â Reasons to write funny names on car windows? Â And for that I pay taxes?Â It’s odd that the ‘socialistic’ schools in Germany have academics as their focus with sportsÂ being a community undertaking.Â On the other hand, the ‘capitalist’Â communities in the United States tax citizens for elitist sports … kind of like what the DDR and USSR used to do.
I had no idea my thought processes would lead in this direction.Â It’s funny where things lead when you start taking ideas apart.
Yes, I understand watching ‘your team,’ enjoying the spectacle, and having a proxy for competition and winning.Â What I don’t understand is what this has to do with education or public schools.