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Topic # 129192 6-Sep-2013 12:33
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Just to clarify - I'm not looking to incite a flame war. Although, this issue can be quite divisive.
My kids and I have been talking about sport, and how it relates to society.

The question we've been discussing is whether sport - not to be confused with physical activity in general (of which sport is a subset off), is actually doing any real good for Western society in it's current form.

I admit to having a certain bias (but probably not what you think) regarding sport, particularly with junior/youth (including college) sport.

There appears to be a strong belief that promoting sport participation will assist in combating a growing obesity problem (which is costing us a fortune apparently). Although, I agree with this in theory, the reality is that sport is elitist - especially at college level.
The bizarre thing (I find), is that the more sport is promoted, the more elitist (the perception of) it becomes.

By my own admission, I would say I have a fairly solid grasp of the issue.

I've been involved in sports administration/coaching/refereeing at junior level, and so have personal (albeit relative) experience of the dark (real?) side of youth sport.

My question to other geekzoners is:
Q: Assume I had the power to remove all organized sport from primary/secondary schools (note: not to be confused with Physical Education), and was planning to do so. What would be the arguments/pros of keeping sport in schools?

Bear in mind, students can still participate in sport outside of school (as part of a club etc). It just means that both the resourcing and financial support of organized sport in schools would be diverted elsewhere into the school system.

Note:
As I said earlier, I'm fairly well-versed on this particular issue (good chance of boring you to death on it). But, my slant is towards the cons of keeping sport in schools. So, from that perspective I could well be missing something - which is why I'm asking (plus one of my kids is doing a school project on the subject, and we need arguments in favour of keeping sport in schools).

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  Reply # 890876 6-Sep-2013 13:07
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we just do the socialist thing and teach all the boys to be in touch with their emotional side and its ok just to be mediocre as the taxpayer will support you throughout life.

Sports/physical activity, amongst other things, promotes team work and also that working hard at something achieves more than just participating. It isn't wrong to win.




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  Reply # 890882 6-Sep-2013 13:13
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Seems to me that removing sport from schools to eradicate the (possible) elitist attitude within it, is like sweeping the problem under the carpet, rather than facing it head on. We should instead be focused on trying to remove the elitist aspect from sport (IMO). Not that i'm suggesting that is a straight forward "cure", would be very difficult to acheive

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 890886 6-Sep-2013 13:16
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I like the idea of sports in schools. I agree that it promotes team building and its probably easier for my son to try his hand at varying sports through school than it would be at club level.

As long as he is having fun and giving it a go, I couldn't care less if his team wins or losses. But as Jeff said, winning is fine and there is nothing wrong with it.



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  Reply # 890899 6-Sep-2013 13:39
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jeffnz: we just do the socialist thing and teach all the boys to be in touch with their emotional side and its ok just to be mediocre as the taxpayer will support you throughout life.


Ummm... sorry, I didn't quite get the point on that one.

jeffnz: Sports/physical activity, amongst other things, promotes team work and also that working hard at something achieves more than just participating. It isn't wrong to win.


To some degree there is certainly an element of learning to work within a team. Also, working hard to achieve a worthy goal is important (not just in sport - that's a life lesson for anything).

But team work implies that the team is more important than the individual (which it should). Of course - that's the theory.

The unfortunate reality is that no matter how "committed" a player is to a team, if they're always going to be a bench player (because they can't "earn" a starting spot), they simply won't get to play. Convincing teenagers to do anything constructive is hard enough, let alone trying to convince them that "playing" most games from the sideline is good for their character. Especially, when lesser committed players (you know the ones - don't turn up to trainings, sometimes have a what-about-me only attitude), tend to get picked because they are the better players.
I'm not saying it's necessarily wrong (or right). But, kids drop out of sport for valid reasons - not just because they're lazy or can't hack it.

If I knew my kid was going to spend an entire season bench warming, I'd pull him. At the end of the day, he's only a kid once, and it's a big sacrifice for parents to take kids to games (especially away ones), buy gear etc - it's simply not worth it. Find something else that's constructive that he/she is really interested in, and take it from there.

Absolutely agree with the winning bit. Nothing wrong with wanting to win. Every team I coached, we played to win.
Although, I don't think I said it was wrong to win (did I?).

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  Reply # 890902 6-Sep-2013 13:42
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I personally think that sport in schools is incredibly important.

I was a geek in high school (surprise surprise) so I played tennis and squash. The elite sports teams (1st 15, Rowing etc) got special treatment etc and I hated them for most of high school.

Now from the other side, my stepson is 14-15 and playing rugby. Having a physical outlet like that is incredibly important. As well as teaching (or trying to) the discipline of training regularly and showing them the improvements they can make from hard work and persistence.

On top of that the sense of belonging and comradeship from being in a good team is powerful and usually positive. Plus sport can make school bearable for some students who aren't too hot at the academic side - it can be a great motivator.

There are a lot of issues with some school sports - most due to parents being idiots. Removing it from schools is stupid.

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  Reply # 890912 6-Sep-2013 13:44
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The first thing I’d suggest is a school is a community. Something Hikea Parata had failed to realize when it has come to Christchurch schools – but that its another story.  

Part of that community is doing things together – and obviously sport is an ideal way of bringing kids together to work towards a common goal.

PC people will probably say that goal is participation, the kids will say its about winning.  

Not only does it bring kids together, it’s a chance to bring parents together. When parents talk they get an understanding of the different qualities different teachers bring and they get to hear what their own kids are up to form different sources.  

Not all kids are academic so the ability to “win” at something other than math’s or reading is probably vital to developing a sense of self esteem.  

Hopefully it goes without saying that sort is about risk/mitigation and effort/reward. As well as coping with loss. Stuff that isn’t learnt from a book  

You’ll probably find research that indicates sport is good for developing hand/eye coordination which helps develop the neural pathways in the brain.  

Sport, being a user of energy, is probably a good way of helping kids sleep at night. Which has to be a positive for parents  

They say “a kid in sport stays out of court”



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  Reply # 890914 6-Sep-2013 13:45
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LazyDr: Seems to me that removing sport from schools to eradicate the (possible) elitist attitude within it, is like sweeping the problem under the carpet, rather than facing it head on. We should instead be focused on trying to remove the elitist aspect from sport (IMO). Not that i'm suggesting that is a straight forward "cure", would be very difficult to acheive


Trust me. Sporting elitism exists at schools - in some form or another it will exist. Whether it's on field/court time, actual "ball" time (once on field/court), a specific position (which only Johnny can play) - it will exist.

I like you're thinking. You might have something there :)

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  Reply # 890922 6-Sep-2013 14:01
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Some people are better at sport, so they get to play in better teams. Some people are better at maths, so they get put in better classes. Elitism exists everywhere. But surely kids get put into teams/classes that suit their ability for whatever it is they do?



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  Reply # 890923 6-Sep-2013 14:02
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Johnk: I like the idea of sports in schools. I agree that it promotes team building and its probably easier for my son to try his hand at varying sports through school than it would be at club level.

As long as he is having fun and giving it a go, I couldn't care less if his team wins or losses. But as Jeff said, winning is fine and there is nothing wrong with it.


From my experience given a choice between being a bench player on a winning team, or a regular player on a losing team - kids much prefer the latter.

When you ask kids why they do certain things typically the response is "because it's fun!!".

So, if we take sports and (say) video games we get:
* Sports == Fun
* Video Games == Fun

But, "fun" usually boils to down to one thing (from my experience). Winning.

As long as you're winning - well, at least a lot more than you're losing - then it's "fun".

The great thing about video games (generally), is that you have to seriously suck to not "win" (multiplayer gaming aside).

Sports is a little different. You must continually improve to be good enough just to stay in the sport. Swimming is a great example (it's unfortunate that once very good junior swimmers don't go near a pool because they feel it's not worth it unless they're winning).

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  Reply # 890925 6-Sep-2013 14:10
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I wasn't trying to suggest it doesn't exist, it was there when i was last at school over 12 years ago, and would be surprised if that had changed... was just the fact that i personally am not involved with it at the moment, so didn't want to make a statement suggesting something was definite when i can't prove it ;)

To throw more logs on the fire, you mentioned that if your child was going to be playing from the bench for the season, you'd pull him. Your argument and reasoning for that is very rational, and i'd have thoughts along the same lines if i was in that position, BUT, isn't the usual situation that you're unlikely to know for certain that your child wouldn't be given a starting position at all that early on in the season, and so being on the bench could supposedly motivate them to work harder to achieve that starting spot?

Not an apples for apples example, but imagine Tom Taylor had given up on All Black aspirations given he was ?5th in line for a starting spot. Now he's had a chance to prove himself, and most would tag him as a future starter at some stage. Worth staying "on the bench" for that opportunity?

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  Reply # 890934 6-Sep-2013 14:19
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I went to a large Auckland boys state school over 20 years ago, but from talking to boys that go there now, not much has changed.

I was a boarder at the school, and when I started there in my third form, we were all told we HAD to participate in a summer and a winter sport. This freaked me out a little as I had come form a school that had no sports teams (quite a small school, quite remote) and I was not all that 'sporty'. More Geeky in fact I suppose.

My first term, I signed up for cricket (had, afterall, played backyard cricket, how hard could it be, right?)
It was pretty boring to be honest, but it got me out of Hostel on a Saturday, and I met some good fellas.

Winter term, I played basketball. That was much the same. enjoyed it for the social aspect, we didn't win much though.

Then I went to a rowing open day, and that was me. The next 4.5 years, that was pretty much my summer and winter sport - Made it all the way to 1st XIII, met some great friends and really enjoyed it. In my 7th form, as well as rowing, I played Rugby, Cricket, Basketball and whatever else was around. I was still not particularly sporty, and these sports were just played socially really, but I am really glad I did it.

The school had (and still has) a big emphasis on sport, but in the lower teams (luckily it is a big school, and there are lots of teams), there was no pressure to win win win, but the teachers coaching us always insisted we showed up for practice, and put an honest effort in.

I fully believe in my case, that I was much better off for having to participate in sport at school, and I did not know many there that did not participate. I think it just produces better rounded individuals at the end of the day.


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  Reply # 890935 6-Sep-2013 14:20
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zaptor:
jeffnz: we just do the socialist thing and teach all the boys to be in touch with their emotional side and its ok just to be mediocre as the taxpayer will support you throughout life.


Ummm... sorry, I didn't quite get the point on that one.

.


sorry didn't check what i typed and was busy at time.

Was tongue in cheek a bit, meaning we dumb our kids down and stop them being anybody in life as the state will look after them (over simplified I know)

Children, especially boys, need to know where they fit in and team sports prepares them for working life. Sure it would be nice if they could all get a medal just for turning up but that penalizes the ones that are able and do put more effort in or are naturally talented, that's just the way life is. Once they get to work they will quickly be sorted into those that perform well and those that don't, that's ok we aren't all leaders, intellects etc but we each need to know where we fit in teaching us its ok to be mediocre doesn't help as they will find out later in life it wasn't true.

If kids/parents (and sometimes expectations of parents is over powering the child) don't want ton play sport then that's fine, once again why penalise those that do just provide different activities that challenge the kids.

Too often with the current system children (boys in particular) have no idea where they fit in or have no way of getting rid of energy they struggle with who they are. Look at the male youth suicide rates in NZ which are the highest in the developed world, we need to let boys be boys and kids be kids and sports including team sports, are ways for them to not only learn how to fit in to life but also show and give them confidence in themselves, to often in today's society we teach them their rights but not responsibilities  which further confuses them once they are thrown into adult life.








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  Reply # 890947 6-Sep-2013 14:42
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IMHO TEAM sports are very important to instil an understanding of:

* Teamwork, and how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts if everyone does their bit

* Getting on with others even if you don't particularly like them

Sport in general is a useful life lesson on:

* Effort and reward (for those that think most winners are "naturals" read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)

* Winning and losing

Having been a "manager" in various roles over the last 20 years I've always found it interesting to compare the backgrounds of those that work well in a team versus those who don't. My observation is that the team players tend to be those that grew up playing in teams. (queue discussion on whether this is because it's their nature to want to be part of a team, or whether it's a skill they've learnt)




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  Reply # 890969 6-Sep-2013 15:05
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wasabi2k: I personally think that sport in schools is incredibly important.

I was a geek in high school (surprise surprise) so I played tennis and squash. The elite sports teams (1st 15, Rowing etc) got special treatment etc and I hated them for most of high school.


The special treatment hasn't changed. I think it's gotten worse actually.

wasabi2k: Now from the other side, my stepson is 14-15 and playing rugby. Having a physical outlet like that is incredibly important. As well as teaching (or trying to) the discipline of training regularly and showing them the improvements they can make from hard work and persistence.

On top of that the sense of belonging and comradeship from being in a good team is powerful and usually positive. Plus sport can make school bearable for some students who aren't too hot at the academic side - it can be a great motivator.

There are a lot of issues with some school sports - most due to parents being idiots. Removing it from schools is stupid.


I agree with physical outlet to a certain degree. For a few kids, that outlet can make a big difference in coping with (i.e. making it through) school. The downside to it (and I have seen this), is that it can sometimes mask real problems the student in question has, which are never dealt with until they leave school - by then it's almost too late.
It's a tricky one for sure. However, I'm not advocating removing all sport - just from schools. Sports would return to the clubs, where they tend to be better managed anyway from my experience.

Yeah, idiot parents are a real problem alright. Perhaps for another thread.

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  Reply # 890974 6-Sep-2013 15:14
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So, your hypothesis is that removing sport from school will take away the elitism associated with sports?

There was an article recently that talked about taking academic streaming away from schools because that creates/represents academic elitism.

I wonder if the problem isn't sporting or academic achievement per se, but how these can create elitism.

Philosophically speaking life is a competition (if you believe in evolution and natural selection), and so humans are naturally inclined to compete. Humans are also unique in providing and valuing compassion and fairness, which kinda balances the competition.

Perhaps teaching people how they can use their "eliteness" to help others is a better approach, than banning sport?

Jon

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