« $1.5 Million Anonymous Donation Spares D.C. School Sports | Main | Mo. District Spends $18 Million on New Athletic Facilities »

Are Athletics Overemphasized in American High Schools?

That's a question EdWeek blogger Walt Gardner tackles today in his Walt Gardner's Reality Check blog.

Gardner examines the case of Herbert H. Lehman High School in New York, whose football field is 20 yards too short for regulation. As a result, the team has forfeited any sense of home field advantage and has been forced to play all its games on other schools' fields.

Gardner writes:

Despite the allocation of almost $5 million by the New York City Department of Education to renovate Lehman's multipurpose athletic complex, the new field will still come up 20 yards shy because the additional land is purportedly owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. The football coach said the deficiency will only exacerbate the inconvenience and embarrassment that have long existed, and parents have threatened to file a lawsuit.

What's disturbing about the whole affair is the inordinate weight placed on athletics at the expense of academics. It's hard to get worked up about a short football field when classrooms are being neglected because of the district's budget woes. Only in this country are athletics accorded such attention and adulation. Our competitors abroad have long found it strange that athletic ability plays such a strong role in awarding scholarships for college.

Be sure to read his whole entry for more details about the Herbert H. Lehman High School case and for more on the debate about overemphasizing athletics in U.S. schools at the sake of academic excellence.

But for what it's worth, there's plenty of research (not to mention school programs) that suggest academics and athletics (particularly physical fitness programs) don't have to remain mutually exclusive.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments