Rethinking the Sports-Industrial Complex | Seth’s Blog


School sports can have some valuable outputs:

  • Learning teamwork
  • A lifetime habit of fitness
  • Giving non-academically-focused kids a chance to shine
  • Offering leadership opportunities
  • Valuing persistence, innovation and responsibility

And yet, many schools act as if all they have is a trophy shortage. They bench kids who might not (yet) have the physical attributes necessary to win, or they build huge stadiums, go on long road trips, berate students that make an error or simply act as if the only point is to win.

Fancy uniforms, the magnification of small differences and a cutthroat focus on the outcome is not something that leads to the benefits that most of us would root for.

Why not have a small league and swap kids around until the teams are evenly matched? Give every single player the same amount of game time? Reward kids for personal growth, not for being better than someone else who simply started with a bit less than they did? What would happen if the coaches were rewarded for what was actually valued by parents, not for recreating what people see on TV?

Perhaps we could begin by asking what school sports are even for. Are they there to entertain the fans?

I’d argue the same goes for the local jazz band and the middle school theatre production as well.


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