Middle School Jeremiah Crawford. Abandoned by his father, lives with his grandmother who does the best she can, a detention regular who barely passed his classes. High School Jeremiah Crawford. Varsity athletics all three years, he doesn’t even know the definition of junior varsity. All State Football Player his sophomore year, all district basketball player, baseball player, track star, and B Honor Roll. Jeremiah Crawford. Currently a junior at Mineola High School, and one of the top 3A recruits for college football.
I am sure most of us have participated in some form of athletics during our lifetime. This could be anything from football, to tennis, to cross-country. I am also sure that sometime during your participation in this activity, you have heard someone say that too much money is invested in this area and that budgets should be cut.
Athletics is so much more than wearing cute uniforms and winning medals. High School athletics to Jeremiah is, and I quote, “My lifeline, probably kept me out of juvie.” Athletics is beneficial to school systems, and the budgets should most certainly not be cut. Athletics improves academics, students who participate tend to be healthier, and athletics teaches good morals.
Our first benefit of athletics is that it improves academics. Now, wait a minute. Don’t sports take up a ton of time? The answer to this is yes. So, if sports take up time, wouldn’t that mean students have less time to focus on school? Yes, and no. A study done by the University of Missouri accessed April 2nd on MUhealth.org- talks about skill sets that are directly relevant to classwork. The study shows that sports require “memorization, repetition and learning. The determination and goal-setting skills sports require can be transferred to the classroom. “From this study we gather that the skills learned on the field and court can also be applied sitting at a desk. These skills help student athletes learn how to focus and, therefore, they can pay better attention in class and receive better grades. As you can see, even though time is taken up by these events, the quality of time spent on academics is actually enhanced.
Students who participate in athletics also tend to be healthier. We all know, obviously, that it helps decrease the amount of obesity. So that is not what we are going to cover. What you might not know is studies have shown that participating in physical activity prevents diseases.
According to the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development accessed April 2, 2016 – “Physical activity… contributes to developing healthy bones and efficient heart and lung functions.” Athletics helps prevent chronic diseases including cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, and depression.
We have seen how athletics improves academics and health, but one of the most important qualities to me, is that athletics teaches students good morals. Athletic Director Joe Drennon from Mineola ISD has been coaching for more than 25 years. He said, “Athletics is a big part of a student’s life in the fact that it helps prepare them for the real world and teaches them how to earn their way everyday. That nothing is a given. It teaches them how to be thankful for their victories, and learn from their defeats.” After almost every sporting event fans observe both teams shaking hands and telling each other good job. This might not seem like a big deal, but one of those teams didn’t come out top. They had to learn how to accept their defeat and move forward. They had to learn how to improve so they could fix their mistakes and compete better the next time.
As you can see, athletics is more than just throwing a ball down a field or kids “looking cool” in jerseys. And according to the National Federation of State High School Associations accessed April 2, 2016 – “more than 7.6 million high school students, 55% of our student population, participates in athletics.” The funding going towards athletics provides for more than just sports. It provides an opportunity for students, some like Jeremiah, who would have otherwise taken a completely different path. He is on the fast track to college, whereas in middle school, he wanted nothing more than to drop out. Athletics provides classroom enhancement, health benefits, and good morals. So before you think about cutting athletic budgets at your local schools, remember the 7.6 million, remember the benefits, and remember Jeremiah.