Interscholastic and Intercollegiate Athletics

“Club sports lack an educational component,” Bob Gardner, executive director of the Indianapolis-based National Federation of State High School Associations, wrote in a column. “These programs exist solely for the purpose of improving one’s athletic skills.”

This is a quote taken from a recent article from The Republic based in Columbus, Indiana.

I think it’s rather laughable that Bob Gardner thinks that the NFHS and other high school associations are doing a good job to ensure that interscholastic athletics is there for the “educational component.” The same can be said for Mark Emmert and the NCAA (and other intercollegiate governing bodies).

In class the other day, we got into a big discussion about why there’s a debate among academia and athletics over how colleges and universities operate. My stance is that debate goes far beyond higher education, it goes through primary and secondary education also. So many people think the educational institutions put TOO much emphasis in athletics. This debate will go on forever and ever, as long as educational institutions offer “extracurricular” activities. It doesn’t have to be athletics, it could be choir or band or dance or cheer.

There’s no doubt about it, these days, athletics is a business on all levels. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t see the large tv deals in college. We wouldn’t see the jersey contracts. We wouldn’t see athletes being the faces of major and minor brands all over the world. If athletics weren’t a business, would we see a $60 million high school football stadium in Texas? If interscholastic sports weren’t a business then would we see all of the rules they have governing that have NOTHING (2012-13 NFHS Basketball Uniform Presentation) to do with the game?

If interscholastic sports were about the “educational component,” then we wouldn’t restrict kids in participation if their school. They are still getting their education right? Why must a publicly funded school restrict kids whose parents pay for that school and its administration…? Why must the kids be restricted when they are no having to pay hundreds of dollars to participate in athletics within an academic institution?

Heck, the NCAA still believes that Division III is a good idea?! What sense does it make to not give out ANY financial aid to students who participate in intercollegiate athletics? There is little-to-no students outside of athletics who represent an institution more than what student-athletes do. They do it all for the love of the game, competition, comradeship, fun, or exercise — yes, probably numerous other reasons too. The athletics side takes up so much time that they cannot hold an adequate job to pay for the rising tuition costs. So…why doesn’t the NCAA allow for some funds to be set aside for students participating in ANY extracurricular activity based on hourly requirements? It would make sense, no? Division III institutions can give out money for choir, art, or band…but not for the person who helps bring a national championship, player of the week, conference accolades, or whatever else gets Smaller Institution University some publicity. That’s lousy.

Let’s go back to this quote by Mr. Gardner…what’s wrong with club sports focusing on improving athletic skills? Maybe the public education system should take note. Club sports are doing their job…making kids better at the sport they want to play. The public education system isn’t doing its job in making kids ready for the real world and/or college. So, why should I trust the education system for helping prepare my kids in the classroom OR athletic field/court? Maybe Mr. Gardner thinks it’s a good idea for schools to hire coaches based on their teaching credentials…right? Or what about hiring teachers based on their coaching credentials? That makes perfect sense. That’s really keeping the “education component” at the heart of it all.

I have ZERO issues with participation fees. I think if they continue getting added and continue getting higher and higher…then club sports will become the option best suited for any athlete. It’s a shame. I enjoyed high school athletics. I think it could work. But it needs to change and evolve. I feel the same about college athletics. Let coaches have more contact with their kids. If the kid wants to get better at volleyball, let him/her. If the kid wants to excel on the baseball field, let him. If the kid wants to excel on the gridiron…then. by all means, get hit in the head more.

Kids don’t participate in these extracurricular activities for the “educational component.” Not even with choir or band. They enjoy doing these activities. They have friends that do the same. They have friends that do different activities. They want to “build their résumé.” I never once stepped on the basketball court thanking my junior high math teacher for the opportunity to play. Athletics starts WAY before anyone steps into a classroom…so why must we attach athletics to a classroom when they get to a certain age? Oh, that’s right, it’s part of the “educational experience.” There’s much more to education than “readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic.” Pfffffffffffffffffffffft, I say.

Things like this are so educational. Nothing like a simple “reprimand” when a coach is doing something he obviously shouldn’t. How many times do we need to see high school coaches (not to mention teachers) involved in “educational” relationships with students? Seems like the NFHS has things all figured out. The NCAA isn’t far behind. These leaders are so far off in their own galaxy they can’t see the forest for the trees.

Meanwhile, we have exciting things like the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention to figure out who’s going to be the next POTUS…who will do nothing to fix nothing…and want to get reelected, to do it all over again…



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