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Datedness of Data Casts Doubts on GAO Sports Report, Expert Says

Last week, in this very blog, I told you about the new report from the Government Accountability Office that found school sports opportunities generally on the increase, despite cuts in physical education time.

Problem is: Most of that data came from the early- to mid-2000s, and the same findings wouldn't hold true now, says Paul Caccamo, executive director of Up2Us, a New York City-based coalition of nonprofit organizations that aims to support youth-sports programs.

In a story in this week's issue of Education Week, I dive into some skepticism about the GAO report, which largely drew upon data from the 2000 and 2006 School Health Policies and Practices Survey and the 2005 and 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, both compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The last three years have been devastating, both for physical education and for sports," said Caccamo in an interview. "Saying that the opportunities for sports have increased based on data from 2006 and a dozen interviews seems dated."

"I frankly think it was inaccurate to say opportunities have increased," Caccamo continued. "I think they've decreased. It's a factor of the GAO not being able to get enough recent data."

While the finding about school sports opportunities being on the rise may be in doubt, there's little doubt about the decrease in phys. ed. in schools. Edwin Moses, chairman of the global Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, said the decrease needs to be addressed, ASAP.

"Overall, they showed that there are many kids who are continuing to participate in sports, and it's a great way to get physical activity, but not every kid plays sports," Moses said in an interview. "You need to provide phys. ed. for all kids, the ones in band and art who aren't on the basketball team."

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