March 2011 Archives

What Can Sports Teach Us About Developing Young Talent?

U.S. society could learn a thing or two from the sporting world about how to successfully develop talent in literature and other fields.


Disaster-Stricken Japan Rallies Around High School Baseball

You may have noticed that this blog takes a particular liking to "using sports for good"—the idea that sports can transcend athletic competition and have a lasting impact on a large body of people. For instance, after World War II, Japan rallied around professional baseball, as it "provided welcome distraction while serving as a symbol of the cooperation, hard work, and self-sacrifice needed to rebuild the devastated land," according to the Associated Press. Now, as the AP reports, Japan has gone back to baseball as a source of national pride after the devastating earthquake and tsunami from earlier this...


Teens (Unofficially) Break Guinness World Record With 60-Hour Tennis Match

Remember that epic 11-hour, 5-minute Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut last summer? Two Montana high school students had a tennis match this past weekend that lasted more than five times as long. Sam Angel and Katie Martens, seniors at Hellgate High School in Missoula, Mont., played a tennis match for 60 hours, 59 minutes, and 58 seconds this past weekend, unofficially breaking the Guinness World Record for longest singles tennis match in history, according to The Missoulian. (Guinness has yet to confirm the record, which stood at 55:55:55 until now.) The two seniors, who went ...


Will Ralph Nader's Goal of Abolishing Athletic Scholarships Help K-12, College Sports?

Saying he wants to "deprofessionalize" college athletics, former presidential candidate Ralph Nader is proposing the elimination of athletic scholarships for college students. The consumer activist believes "it's time we step back and finally address the myth of amateurism surrounding big-time college football and basketball in this country" by replacing athletic scholarships with need-based financial aid. Nader called the proposal the first initiative for his newly reactivated League of Fans, a sports-reform project he founded. (Nader originally formed a now-defunct association called FANS—the Fight to Advance the Nation's Sports in the 1970s, then founded the League of Fans in 2001.)...


Virginia Governor Vetoes Phys. Ed. Mandate

Gov. Bob McDonnell vetoed legislation on Thursday that would have required Virginia public schools to provide their K-8 students with 150 minutes of physical education per week by 2014, calling it an "unfunded mandate." (See Schooled in Sports' previous coverage of the bill here, here, and here.) "In my inaugural address, I stated very clearly that Washington does not always know better than Richmond, and, equally, that Richmond does not always know better than Fairfax or Galax," McDonnell said in a press release. "I have long opposed significant unfunded mandates passed from one level of government to another. Thus, I ...


LeBron James Takes Talents to Fight Against School Dropouts

LeBron James has been called all sorts of not-so-kind things since holding the NBA world hostage last summer with his free-agency decision. There's one thing he can't be accused of, however—being anything other than supportive of children this past year. For instance: Whatever you thought of "The Decision" aside, James raised more than $3 million for Boys & Girls Clubs across the U.S. with his one-hour July 2010 special on ESPN. Now, alongside State Farm, James has high school dropouts in his sights. The insurance giant recently launched a program called 26 Seconds, due to the staggering fact that...


Investigating the Ethics and Values of Sports in 2011

Coaches ranked as the No. 1 positive influence on today's student-athletes, according to a recent report released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. (That sound you just heard was the parents of AAU basketball players taking one giant collective gulp.) The report also uncovered some troubling findings regarding young athletes, role models, and cheating. More than two-fifths of the young athletes surveyed for the report said that if a well-known athlete breaks a rule in a game, children would then think it's acceptable to break the same rule. The report, titled "What Sport Means in America: A Study of Sport's ...


Who Would Win the NCAA Tournament Based on Academic Performance?

Chalk this up under the "Agh, Why Didn't I Think of This Idea First?" category. Both ProPublica and Inside Higher Ed have given March Madness an academic twist by filling out their traditional NCAA tournament brackets based on which schools' athletes perform better in the classroom. To determine who advanced in each round, both groups used the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate, a metric developed by the NCAA in 2005 that measures whether or not student-athletes remain on track to graduate. (I can only imagine they took the APR data for the NCAA tournament teams from the Institute for Diversity and ...


March Madness in the Classroom: Duncan Discusses NCAA Graduation Rates

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a conference call with reporters to discuss the latest NCAA graduation rates, including the rates of teams participating in men's postseason basketball play, and his recommendations for improving academics in collegiate basketball. Also joining the secretary on the call were Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, and Richard Lapchick, the director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, University of Central Florida. The call came on the heels of the release of the institute's annual report, "Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Success and Academic Progress Rates ...


New York Ups Ante on Student-Athlete Concussion Rules

In the ongoing battle against student-athlete concussions, New York may be raising the stakes for the rest of the country. (Remember, the NFL has encouraged all 50 states and D.C. to pass concussion laws.) State Sen. Kemp Hannon, chair of the Senate Health Committee, introduced legislation yesterday that would force New York schools to prevent student-athletes from returning to play for at least 24 hours after suffering concussions, even with approval from a doctor, according to the Associated Press. Many other states, such as Washington, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon passed concussion laws in the past few years requiring student-athletes ...


S.C. Budget Writers Reduce Phys. Ed. Spending by 15 Percent

Members of the South Carolina House are discussing a proposed state budget that slashes physical education spending by 15 percent for fiscal 2011. The legislators are currently debating a $5.2 billion spending plan that doesn't include any of the $174 million federal bailout money present in last year's budget, according to the Associated Press. To counter the shortfall, the House budget writers suggested tapping $100 million in reserves. A total of $12 million gets lopped off nearly a dozen school programs, including P.E. and guidance counseling, but the state's Department of Education budget grows enough to devote $25 ...


Virginia to Allow Almost Year-Round Coaching for H.S. Student-Athletes

If you're a high school athlete in Virginia, here's hoping you really love the sport you play. And if you're a multi-sport athlete, a new state rule may seriously cramp your lifestyle. The Virginia High School League Executive Committee voted 20-6 late last month in favor of a new practice rule that would allow student-athletes to receive almost year-round coaching, effective Aug. 1, according to InsideNOVA.com. Before this new rule was passed, Virginia coaches could only work with their athletes while their respective sports were in season. Now, beyond a 10-day "dead period" at the beginning of the fall, ...


W. Va. Warns Student Wrestlers About Potential Exposure to Skin Herpes

The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health sent out warnings on Friday to alert schools of the risk of a skin herpes outbreak for any wrestlers who competed in the state tournament at the end of February. Five members of a high school wrestling team in the state contracted herpes gladiatorum, according to the department's press release. Potential cases of the virus have been reported in other schools, and the department is investigating. "We all must be diligent in preventing the spread of communicable diseases through visible open lesions," said state schools Superintendent Jorea Marple in the press release. "It ...


Mandatory Phys. Ed. Legislation Has Va. School Administrators Sweating

Pending legislation in Virginia that would make 150 minutes of physical education per week mandatory for K-8 students has some school officials in the state feeling queasy. "Any time we get another unfunded mandate from the state, it worries us," Albemarle Assistant Superintendent Billy Haun told the Charlottesville Daily Progress. "It's going to be a problem." The legislation, which only awaits Gov. Bob McDonnell's signature at this point, is seen as an effort to promote physical well-being and combat obesity of the state's youngsters. If McDonnell does sign the bill, it won't take effect until the 2014-15 school year, giving ...


Concussion Rate May Be Rapidly Rising for Student-Athletes, Study Finds

The rate of concussions in student-athletes may have more than quadrupled in the past decade, according to a new study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The study, which examines 25 schools in a large public high school system, found that for every 10,000 times student-athletes stepped onto a playing field in 1997, there was slightly more than one concussion reported. Compare that with 2008, where there were roughly five concussions reported for every 10,000 times student-athletes went onto playing fields. The study examines six boys' and six girls' sports and observed a total of 2,651 ...


When Athletics Takes Precedence Over Academics in Higher Education

Over in Walt Gardner's Reality Check Blog today, Gardner reviews a recent New York Times article about Coastal Carolina's attempt to build a brand name through athletics instead of academics. It's well worth a read, and certainly raises questions about what's taking priority on college campuses these days: academics or athletics? Here's an excerpt from Gardner's entry: [Coastal Carolina President David] DeCenzo's second mistake was to hire Cliff Ellis as coach, even though his programs at Clemson and Auburn had been found guilty of major NCAA infractions, and placed on two years' probation. These cases involved grade-fixing, illicit payments to ...


Should Background Checks Be Mandatory for All Prospective College Athletes?

In light of a new Sports Illustrated/CBS News investigation into the criminal backgrounds of high-profile college football players, student-athletes hoping to play at the college level may soon be facing background checks in their recruiting future. The report, released today, lays out the results of a criminal background check SI/CBS News ran on all 2,837 players on the preseason rosters of the teams in Sports Illustrated's 2010 preseason Top 25. The findings were chilling: Seven percent of the players in the preseason Top 25, a total of 204 student-athletes, had been charged with or cited for a ...


Wis. Lawmakers Aim to Repeal Mascot Name-Changing Law

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin introduced a bill last week seeking to repeal legislation that empowers the state schools superintendent to force school districts to change team names, mascots, nicknames, and logos that are based on race or ethnicity. Last year, former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, signed the law into effect that allowed school district residents to challenge nicknames, logos, or mascots they find offensive. The state schools superintendent would then hold a hearing and could order districts to change the mascots within a year's time. At the time of the law's passage, 36 districts had been highlighted as having ...


Students Striding Toward Physical Fitness in Ky. Elementary Schools

All 500+ 4th and 5th graders in a Kentucky school district will be receiving pedometers as part of a new fitness initiative to motivate them to stay active and healthy. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the initiative, which lifted off Feb. 14, is a collaboration between the Clay County schools, Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, and Manchester Memorial Hospital. Kosair is providing the district with the pedometers, which will cost approximately $15,000. Students will be challenged to walk as many steps per day as possible, and the program will tie in nutrition education. The information from the pedometers can ...


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