Academics or Athletics

Who’s in charge in schools—teachers or coaches? As learning institutions, the primary purpose of school programs SHOULD be academics. Striking a balance between the intellectual and the physical is commendable. And everyone needs discretionary time. Ah, therein lies the problem. In some cases, practices exceed classroom time and coaches’ demands become excessive.
Throughout my many years in education, I have been continually perplexed and often troubled by the dominance that coaches yield not only over students, but also over teachers, administrators, and parents. Why do parents comply with demands like weekend practices that clearly cut into family time? Student athletes have confided that their families could not go on vacation because the coaches would penalize them if they missed practice. Others have reported that they could not participate in numerous activities outside the confines of the court, the track, or the field because their coaches simply wouldn’t release them. Who schedules an athletic event the night before a major exam like the SAT’s or ACT’s? Who’s keeping the interests of the students in the forefront?
To what end is all of this emphasis on sports? Colleges may attract students by having winning teams that generate contributions, but what benefit do high schools receive aside from a trophy or a title? What percentage of high school athletes actually go on to be recruited for a college team or even participate in a college sport? Qui bono—the student athlete or the coach?

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