EdWeek published an article last week stating that participation in high school athletics rose to about 7.4 million students:
“The survey was based on figures supplied by the associations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It showed 3.06 million participants in girls sports, breaking the former record of 3.02 million set last year, and 4.372 million in boys sports, breaking the former record of 4.367 million set in 1977-78.”
Thank goodness all those kids are in the United States, because competitive sport in the United Kingdom apparently leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and general fat-itude:
“Schools should cut down on competitive sport because it is putting children off exercise and undermining the government’s drive to tackle obesity, researchers warned today.
Last month, the prime minister, Gordon Brown, promised to bring back competitive sport in schools and to extend the range of sports offered to children.
However, a new study by Laura Ward, from Loughborough University, claimed the heavy emphasis on fitness and competitive sport in many secondary schools is doing little or nothing to help curb the UK’s record teenage obesity rates.”
Some might say that running around while playing sports provides general exercise. Ha! Wrong, sayeth the academics:
“But Ward will tell the annual conference of the British Educational Research Association in Edinburgh later today that too many PE teachers, particularly men, are still emphasising the importance of competitive team sports at the expense of more individual activities.”
Yes, a sport is different than a targeted, sustained cardiovascular exercise regimen. I’ll even admit that a regimen provides more health benefits than a sport.
I don’t care.
I prefer the former to the latter, and I’ve always been more likely to engage a competitive sport than… a treadmill.
“Teachers’ own deeply-embedded attitudes are also influential. A teacher who has experienced lifelong success in sport is likely to want to focus upon competitive team games within their lessons. This then presents us with a persistent cycle whereby sport is privileged within PE and health-related exercise is marginalised.”
You know it’s serious when the academics bring out the “P” word.
If you think some students hate gym class now, turn it into “Exercise Class” and measure their attitudes again. I wasn’t a class-cutter in high school, but I’d have taken every opportunity to skip that one.