March Madness started this week! Sports have been part of America since our founding and have continued to hold a central part in our culture. We thought we’d take a minute and explore the role of organized sports in education. This year’s NCAA basketball tournament is an important reminder of the part that sports play in our students’ lives, inside and outside the classroom.
As many will tell you, sports are more than just games. Student competition, on the field or on the court, helps to develop our kids’ teamwork and cooperative skills, boost creative problem solving, and improve their concentration. They provide students with a healthy outlet for exercise and an early lesson in learning to balance competing demands—like schoolwork and team practices.
Team sports also offer a chance to learn about goal setting. Competitive sports serve to help our kids realize that we all have different gifts in different areas, and that’s ok. The collective talents of a team and leveraging those strengths are a critical demonstration of the business world and a work environment. Our children are exposed to all those early lessons by playing sports at school or in a club with their peers.
Students who participate in sports may also do better in life across the board. A recent BioMed Central study of World War II veterans found that the single strongest predictor of well-being later on in life was whether someone played a varsity sport in high school.
But organized sports must hold their appropriate place in our children’s overall development. It’s easy for the big game to overshadow the big test. Academics can sometimes take a backseat to athletic demands that are often, well, more fun. Some districts sometimes prioritize sports over learning resources or education funding. When we shortchange our academics, we shortchange our kids.
This year, the odds on a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s just fine with us. We think the odds of a perfect education should be one to one.
This March, we’ll be rooting for our team: the parents, teachers, and advocates who make sure we get closer to better odds for every child.