One could ask if Danny Duncan Collum’s “Paying to Play” (December 2014) might prompt another proposal: Eliminate interscholastic school sports entirely and provide lots of intramural sports at schools or at the Y, an organization providing sports opportunities for kids of all ages.
This could help lead to the following:
1) Help students and parents focus more on academic and personal growth. In a day when lots of people are complaining about the lack of focus on academic achievement and on the high costs of public education, no one seems willing to discuss the distraction from academic achievement.
2) Focus tax support for schools more specifically on academic learning and greatly reduce the amount of tax money allotted to costs, evident or hidden, of the huge high school sports machine in action.
3) Foster a purer pursuit of sports as recreation for as many students as possible—for its fitness and interpersonal development values.
4) Avoid the one-sport-all-year-long standard that has taken over many schools, to the “satisfaction” of coaches but the detriment of students, who would benefit from a wider variety of sports opportunities.
5) Open up more fully to participation in “travel team” sports for particularly skilled youngsters, providing monetary support for those who cannot pay the usual cost—a model already existing in certain places in Europe.
6) Provide some of the leftover time for more students to engage in the arts, debate, journalism, and academic clubs. This enrichment would better serve students who presently try to focus on one sport all year long to the exclusion of a wide variety of gainful pursuits, often with little actual playing time.