Too much emphasis placed on sports achievements

February 23, 2009

By Carla Mokin

Hall Monitor Carla Mokin Liberty High School

Hall Monitor Carla Mokin Liberty High School

 As Americans, we focus a considerable portion of our lives on sports. We watch basketball intensely during March madness, take our sons and daughters to afternoon baseball games, and dedicate entire Sundays to the Super Bowl.

Sports are an important facet of the American lifestyle and should be practiced, honored and celebrated. But when does the obsession with sports go too far?

When society starts to value people not for their character or wisdom, but for their physical prowess, it reinforces the idea that education is not essential to success. We ask ourselves, why isn’t the U.S. producing as many engineers, doctors and physicists as India, and why are we lagging behind European countries in the world of particle physics? Yes, it has to do with government funding, but we can’t just blame it all on George Bush anymore. We have to look inward, at our priorities, as students, parents and community members. 

What do we value? What do we celebrate? What kinds of behaviors do we reinforce? If one looks at high school as a preparation period for life, a sort of preview of the real world, it is blatantly obvious what we as a society value most in a human being. 

For example, if I get an A in honors physics (a remarkable accomplishment), I might get congratulations from my physics teacher. But if I score a winning touchdown, my achievement is broadcasted on the morning announcements, published in the newspaper and is a topic of discussion for the next week at least.

I am in no way saying that school sports aren’t constructive. I believe they are important, if not essential. Practicing sports while in school keeps students healthy, teaches valuable life skills, and provides a fun and safe physical outlet for frustration and anger. 

I am simply reminding people to step back every once in a while and take a look at their priorities. If we want a country full of stunning athletes and void of Nobel Prize winners, we should continue at the current rate. But if we want to challenge ourselves to be the best, not just physically but mentally, we need to change the way we view education as a society.

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