I’m sure a few of you have seen the video I’ve linked at the bottom of this article. This is a video of a stepfather beating his child after dropping the ball during a game of catch. Luckily, a neighbor was taping this sad affair. Even luckier, this neighbor gets involved and says a few choice words defending the poor kid.
I’m confident we’ve all been witness to parents taking children athletics much more serious than is realistically necessary. To make the story even juicier, the abusive step dad is an elected official. Hopefully the viral nature of this video has cost him more than just a felony child abuse charge. With any luck, he’s been stripped of his post and can focus all his obvious “passion” for his legal defense.
This story has been covered to death, so I’ll skip the minute details and just get to the point of discussing the insanity of our country’s obsession with sports at the kid level. Looking at sports even at the professional level is a lesson in greed and squandered resources. I get the concept of revelry, teamwork and sharing common goals but I just don’t understand the thought process of forcing the level of gravity that parents put on their children when it comes to something so pedestrian.
We spent one season of softball with our daughter, and after enduring the grueling schedules, the zealous parents, and the ludicrous cost to be involved we pulled her out never to return. It’s mindless. I understand that there are indeed valuable lessons to be gained in sports. I just don’t think that those lessons should include rabid competition, and the vast amount of resources that are spent when it comes to sports in our school system.
All professional studies I’ve read from reliable sources show that as a country, we’re struggling to remain at the middle of the pack. A passage from www.greatschools.org had the most recent data with Finland outperforming us by leagues, as well as sixteen other industrialized countries beating us as well. The Huffington Post’s latest world ranking was put into terms of an Educational Olympics, to show how we stack up with the rest of the world. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/education-olympics-how-do_n_1707968.html
This clever chart shows the U.S. with the most gold medals overall, but when you get down to calories spent compared to literal success in the classroom we are woefully behind. The overall winners were Great Britain with the gold, Japan silver, and Germany lastly with the Bronze medal. This chart should be analyzed with some wariness as it only compares the top ten countries with the most gold medals. Finland is not even mentioned, despite them being the most effective country when it comes to overall education. While not the most accurate vehicle for examining which country is the best in education, the Huffington Post Olympic chart does a wonderful job of showing that our country is expending a ton of energy while yielding mediocre results; which is my overlying theme here.
Our public school systems spend nearly eleven thousand dollars annually per student to educate them. Athletic expenditures vary wildly state by state, but on average each state spends at least ten percent of their total budget on athletic activities. That may not seem like much at first glance but when you tally the country’s sport expenditures at the bare minimum of ten percent annually, it quickly adds up. You do the math. My results show the country spending fifty five thousand dollars per student annually to put them through sports. With nearly seventy seven million kids in our school system, my shitty calculations have the conservative estimate at nearly 4,235,000,000,000 dollars. Fuck. That’s a lot of money.
With our kids performing so poorly compared to the rest of the civilized world, is this kind of money really well spent? If you include the states who pride themselves on their athletic programs, that number goes up dramatically.
Personally, I think that sports programs need to be completely removed from the public school system. If this kind of money could be spent on more important subjects such as math and science, imagine the impact it would have on getting our children prepared for real life application. If the parents want their kids to be involved in sports, let them pay for it themselves. I’m sick of shelling out cash to equip our kids to play games that have no real educational bearing.
So in closing, I’d like our readers to assess how much they care about public school athletics and if this kind of spending is justified. It seems frivolous to me. I don’t watch sports, or care for them really. So, I’m biased. What do you think? Are you okay with our nation’s obsession with sports indoctrination? When you get down to how many students actually make it into the professional sports level, it’s just silly. What say you, faithful reader? Are you comfortable with this amount of bloat for non essential activities in our school systems? I look forward to your comments and opinions. Thanks so much for reading.