Debate: Have We All Become Too Sports-Crazy?

Schools with bigger athletic programs have lower drop-out rates, but should schools be emphasizing athletics as much as they do?

Marmaduke St. John/Alamy

Sports definitely keep us active and teach crucial life skills, like teamwork and commitment. But some teens think we’ve become too obsessed with athletics—and that our study habits, social lives, and extracurriculars, such as music and art, suffer because of it. So should we lighten the emphasis on participating in sports? Two teens make their cases . . .

 YES:  Schools need to find a better balance between academics and athletics.

Some schools practically revolve around sports, and it puts too much pressure on students. Either they feel obligated to get involved, even if they have no true interest, or they become too obsessed with their sport, forgetting they are “student-athletes” (that is, students first) rather than “athlete-students”!

What’s the cost? I had to give up basketball because of an injury, so I’ve learned firsthand that sports don’t last forever. And I can now see how my schoolwork had taken a backseat. Athletes get up early to train, then stay late to practice, leaving little time for studying and sleep.

So administrators must find a way to regulate the balance between academics and athletics, providing equal opportunity and encouragement for both. Think about it: Wouldn’t it be amazing if the mathletes got a pep rally too?

—Derrell Bouknight, 17, a high school senior from Washington, D.C.

 NO:  Sports teach important values and inspire healthy habits for life.

There’s no doubt in my mind: Sports deserve all the attention they get! I’m on two varsity teams, and I think that they are a great way to learn hard work, cooperation, and physical fitness. Can any other activity even compare?

I especially value how sports teach mental toughness and reward dedication. Training hard for 11 months before a championship instills the importance of setting long-term goals, investing your time in them, and balancing it all with homework and other commitments.

And while these mental benefits are big, what’s equally important are the physical upsides. Student-athletes learn to enjoy exercise and appreciate being in shape, which can stay with them forever.

In a nation plagued by obesity-related diseases, that’s proof enough that having good sports programs really matters—plain and simple.

—Lana Gorlinski, 16, a high school junior in Orange County, CA

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