Thursday, November 18, 2010

Outside Shot

So, I have a reputation for being a bad sports mom.

I don't wear the jersey and go to every game, clanging a cowbell.

But I'm trying.

The deal was that if Dominic (13) didn't play football this year, I'd step it up as a basketball mama. I would go to more games. I wouldn't bring any papers to grade there. I would pay attention, and at the end, I would know whether Dominic's team won or lost.

Last night, Dave and I drove an hour and a half to Klamath Falls to watch our boy on the court. From under the basket, he waved at me enthusiastically. I love that kid.

By the third quarter (44-24, Klamath Falls), I got a little antsy, though. A grandma sitting near me was scribbling down her shopping list, and I was coveting, obsessing over that notepad.

Eyes on the game, I couldn't stop thinking. What if education drew the same support that sports did?

What if parents drove an hour and a half twice a week for Brain Bowls, Odysseys of the Mind, Spelling Bees, music recitals? And what if half the school showed up to watch?

What if teacher to student ratios were 1:6?

What if money used on transportation for coaches' stipends and team transportation were matched in school libraries?

What if the learning process used the team concept, where students shared a common goal and worked together for months to achieve it?

What if academic school pride matched that of the athletic kind?

What if hordes of parents got together to cheer on students with math?

What if kids practiced reading and writing for two hours every day after school?

What if the arts were as valued as baseball?

What if weeklong celebrations like homecoming revolved around science instead of football?

The bottom line is that athletics are great. They keep kids fit, involved, and out of trouble. I played soccer forever, was on swim team, joined college intramurals. I married a two-sport college athlete; together, we made us some sporty babies. I know the stats, too: higher SATs, lower drug use.

But, from the bleachers, I can't help wondering why if a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of these young athletes will go on to use their talents professionally, what is happening with the much larger number of them who won't?

9 comments:

Kierah Jane Reilly said...

You crack me up! Such a funny post. I think you said it right there though. Higher SATs, lower drug use. Plus, they learn: empathy, dealing with difficult people, how to work together to achieve a common goal, winning and losing with grace. But man, those softball games were torture weren't they?

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are a woman after my own heart! But then, we already knew that. LOL. :-)

Thanks for always being such a great cheerleader for me.

Elana Johnson said...

This is such an insightful post. And what if teachers were paid what pro athletes were? Then we'd have so many teachers we wouldn't know what to do with them!!

Kjersten said...

Fun post! Totally understand the distracted sports-viewer thing. I always have to have some side activity when watching a sport. It's great that you went to support your kid.

RE: The kids who don't use sports professionally -- many of them will have a healthy hobby for life. Or at least will understand the value of exercise. Some will just like to watch sports on T.V. but others have understood the value of teamwork or exercise in a visceral way that will serve them all of their days.

Also I know many a literature or art major that maybe didn't end up in that field but LOVE LOVE LOVE reading and/or art to the point that their passion makes life richer. Just because you don't make a living from something doesn't mean that something isn't worth it.

Anonymous said...

i want to play rugby. can i do it?
please please


Dominic

Guinevere said...

I don't think "sports" are important (and I think they should never overshadow academics!) but fitness is. So as long as those sports played give kids a lifetime interest in staying fit and healthy (which can go either way depending on how it's done) I think it can be valuable, or not so valuable.

But, I do think academics should be regarded just as highly - it's weird to me that they wouldn't be, honestly (but I have always dwelt in academic geekland - going to a geeky enough school where no one shows up for the football games but robotics and theater are HUGE might have given me an odd perspective).

Obviously, school budgets sometimes mean a line has to be drawn somewhere, but it'd be nice to see a good balance of both.

Jennie Englund said...

All of these comments are really thought-provoking! I love it!

anjie said...

Let's raise kids who can do it all. I want to raise the artsy athletic thoughtful outgoing funny serious playful kid who likes his life. Sports, academics, art -- bring it all on. It's all important.

Debbie Curran said...

Makes you think though... maybe some of your points could improve our kids' stats? I'm with Anjie, though... trying to raise kids with that all-around passion... so far, a lack of enthusiasm for play-doh. Arts may be a problem... ;)