As decisions are being finalized for the start of the 2020-2021 school year in South Florida, with online-only options appearing to be at the forefront of the agenda, something other than traditional classroom education is at stake. It’s understandable that attempting to resolve classroom education options has been the priority over extracurricular activities, but perhaps it shouldn’t have been. How many superstars in sports who’ve come out of South Florida over the years have said they don’t know what would have happened to them if not for athletics? But for every Lamar Jackson, there are untold thousands of grade school athletes you’ll never know the name of but have their lives improved through the outlet, competition, and teamwork.
According to a study in the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, students who participate in athletics have higher self-esteem, are more likely to graduate and are less likely to smoke or use drugs. Naturally, with all of those positives, the outcomes in other avenues in life tend to benefit. The average athlete has better attendance, better GPA’s, and higher test scores. This benefit carries over into lifetime success as well. Over 90% of C-level professionals at Fortune 500 companies played sports in school. Sound high? Consider that even an ultimate programmer Mark Zuckerberg didn’t play just one high school sport, he played two, tennis and crew.
The point is that for many students, the ability to play and connect with sports is a critical component of the education experience. As all of the focus is seemingly on whether to get back to the classroom or not, sports are another dynamic in the conversation. For that matter, why couldn’t schools which only offer online education consider athletics as well? I wanted to draw attention to this topic today as final surveys are submitted and votes take place to determine what’s about to happen or not happen at our schools. While it’s to be determined what the educational impact will be on online vs. Classroom education, it’s already clear what not offering sports will do. It's my hope to raise the profile of this conversation. It should be a priority alongside the education discussion.
Photo by: Getty Images/AleksandarNakic