Tonawanda News

Columns

October 16, 2012

CONFER: Cut school sports — for philosophical reasons

Last week’s column discussed the dire straits faced by school districts and how it makes good fiscal sense to cut sports. It’s also good practice from a philosophical standpoint.

Very few people would argue against society having a responsibility, within reason, for the education of our youth. It’s only fair: it was done for us and we should do it for them. It’s also a good investment: The introduction of knowledge to and the fostering of critical thinking skills within our children will always pay huge dividends when they became capable, working adults who will contribute to the greatness oftheir generation and those that follow.

But, a line needs to be drawn.

We should fund science, math and the humanities. They contribute to the basic premise of public education. The burden that taxpayers shouldn’t shoulder, though, are the extra-circular activities. Not only do athletics have the potential to adversely affect the budgeting of the intellectual pursuits and/or create undue financial burden on local, state, and federal taxpayers, but we’ve been saddled for too long by a sort of misguided belief whereby society thinks that entertainment and leisure deserve the same investment of energy and public funds as the things that really count in life.

It should be noted that by strengthening the important aspects and outcomes of education (know-how, creativity and productivity) in the home, in our community and in our nation, leisure will follow as an improved people (singularly and collectively) have the time and money to invest in it. We’re not even close in that regard — not only are our students getting trounced when compared against the rest of the world’s children, but our society is in an escalated state of decline (see our struggling economy, for starters). It’s the overemphasis on leisure that contributed to the Roman Empire’s complacency and resulting death, and it’s doing the same to us. To some, that may seem like over-reaching hysteria, but take a look around you: Think of how many youths (and their parents) focus more on sports than on their studies…they’d rather excel on the field than in the classroom.

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