The importance of sports and games in school encompasses more than just the benefit of physical activity. Increases in self-esteem and mental alertness make school sports and games necessary for every school age child. Although the benefits of school sports abound, with a diminishing economy, many schools are cutting out sports and physical education programs to the detriment of students nationwide.
According to Theodore Hesburgh, author of "The Importance of School Sports and Education," it is imperative for school age children to have access to sports and games. Not only does it empower youth and promote higher self-esteem, it also motivates students, enables them to earn better grades, especially in schools where obtaining certain grades is a pre-requisite to staying on the team. Numerous physical benefits include maintaining a healthy weight, preventing chronic diseases and learning the skills necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle after graduating.
Promoting physical activity should start from the nursery room, according to Jean Zimmerman and Gil Reavill, authors of "Raising Our Athletic Daughters." Promoting athletics as a parent is a crucial factor in determining whether your child will be interested in participating in sports. Playing with your child, whether throwing a football or baseball with your son, or teaching your daughter how to swim, teaches them the importance of being active. Encouraging your school-age child to participate in a sport of their choice may be the reason they continue to play when they enter school.
Some children do not consider themselves athletic and may prefer not to play organized school sports. They may be cut from the school team for lack of ability. For this group, there are intramural teams, which are sports for those not interested or able to play higher level athletics. It is important to remember in these cases not to make your child feel badly about not being a higher level athlete, but to remember the more important benefits of playing sports, and encourage them in this endeavor.
With a tough economy, many schools are cutting spending for sports and athletics programs. Because of the many benefits of sports, it is imperative to continue the athletic programs available to children. As a parent it may be necessary for you to become involved on the school board to have a say about keeping athletic programs. Encouraging your child to speak up about their desire for athletics may also affect whether your school keeps their sports or cuts them out of the budget.
- Promoting Physical Activity and Exercise Among Children:Liane Summerfield
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical activity and public health: A recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine.
- National Association for Sport and Physical Education:Let's Move in School
- Family Education:Raising Our Athletic Daughters
- "The Importance of School Sports in American Education and Socialization"; Theodore Hesburgh; 1994
- "The Washington Post:" In Cutting Sports Funding, Everyone Loses": Jay Mathews; 2009