Sports have a great role in any healthy society, but a sports obsessed society is not healthy

Sports are especially hard on poor kids. Too many seek salvation through sports. They want to be stars. So instead of studying something useful like math or science, keeping sports an incidental activity, they make sports their life’s focus to the exclusion of school work. We saw that in the recent NC scandal. The vast majority of aspiring sports stars will fail. Their chances are thousands to one. They will get very good - but not good enough - at something that has little value in later life. The additional sad irony is that many will start watching sports instead of participating, get fat and & of shape, exacerbating problems they may have suffered being banged around and hit on the head too many times playing games.

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It is good for people to participate in sports and maybe watch them casually, but becoming a hardcore fan is not a good thing. And certainly putting your hopes on being a star is stupid. The average aspiring star athlete would be better served even earning minimum wage at McDonald's. At least he would get some money and take fewer blows to the head.

Posted by Christine & John at January 30, 2014 7:17 AM
Comments
Comment #375943

Schools are spending a lot of money on sports. Pensions also have to be paid for the coaches. There’s also the money spent on grounds and groundskeeping, and facilities. That money wouldn’t be spent if none of the kids played sports.

Now, ask the rabid father if the son’s sports program was to be terminated because of a lack of funds. School boards would much rather spend less on math and science than put up with the irate parents.

How about saving money on the pensions? You thought irate parents were bad, now you’re talking about unions.

Funny thing is, if you take the money out of high school sports the kids would still play. They just wouldn’t be expected to take it so seriously.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 29, 2014 9:07 PM
Comment #375945

Willie

“Funny thing is, if you take the money out of high school sports the kids would still play. They just wouldn’t be expected to take it so seriously.” and that would be much better.

I loved to play sports in HS and college. I was on the swim team and I think that gave me skills that I still have today. But we were not allowed to have practices outside the swim season or on weekends and if our grades went below 2.0, they kicked us off the team.

Posted by: CJ at January 29, 2014 9:17 PM
Comment #375946

I would like to see a community based sports program. One that is sponsored by local businesses and philanthropic individuals. It is not a necessity that sports be base in the school system.

I was not an athletic person in school. I had no interest in sports. I couldn’t bounce a basketball to save my life. But I was expected to play sports. Not excelling at it, I was not treated well by the other players and ignored by the coaches. I know that’s a personal observation and may not be indicative of the norm, but expectations that sports are imperative toward the social education of a child is perhaps misplaced.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 29, 2014 9:33 PM
Comment #375950

I have always enjoyed playing sports. They generally provide a level playing field. Perform and you win. Simple as that. No prejudices dictate the outcome They are not popularity contests. They have always been a ticket out of poverty for some lower income youth. There are no “legacy” positions in major sports. Where have the great athletes come from? More racial and ethnic barriers were broken in sports than in any other field.

That said, I also agree that it is a fantasy for most lower income youth to bet their future on athletics. Better to think of it as a ticket to a college degree and a non-athletic professional career.

I don’t blame the kids, though, for seeking “their salvation through sports.” Amateur athletics at the college level is a huge business. In fact, it is astoundingly large. According to a recent report in USA Today “Public universities competing in NCAA Division I sports spend as much as six times more per athlete than they spend to educate students.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2013/01/15/division-i-colleges-spend-more-on-athletes-than-education/1837721/

Promising athletes are scouted, recruited and trained as early as grammar school by a cottage industry related to college athletics and professional sports.

Perhaps, if universities spent as much money recruiting and training promising underprivileged scholars at a young age, then we might see a different set of values from such youths.

Maybe we need to take a hint from the famous Jerry Maquire quote (“show me the money”) and start showing poor youth where the real money is for them.

Posted by: Rich at January 29, 2014 11:56 PM
Comment #375954

A sports centered kid is not a healthy kid, it’s been shown they don’t get jobs by 15 like Mom asked they do. They are late into the workforce but excel at cheating their way through tests at school. Some even have weird and unatural spaces in teeth.

Actually C&J, I don’t know what you are talking about.

Posted by: simpleheaded at January 30, 2014 8:18 AM
Comment #375961

My younger brother was a star quarterback in high school and college. Even signed with the Boston Patriots way back then but was unable to make 3rd string quarterback and came home a bit dejected. He did however attend college on a scholarship which was good because our family could not afford college tuition at the time. He took what he learned on the football field and in high school and college from his classes and soon became a CPA after years of testing and tribulations. He is my accountant, that is really great because I trust him with everything. His is not the normal case but he combined what he learned from his education, on the football field and from the notoriety he earned from being a star and has become a very successful businessman with many successful business contacts. I guess as with most things in life it all comes down to expectations and determination when your expectations fall short. I think that is what most young people miss about sports and moving on to the big stage of professional sports. It doesn’t always happen as you plan and you need to have a backup plan.

Posted by: Speak4all at January 30, 2014 2:26 PM
Comment #375970

Speak4all,

Congratulations to your younger brother. He had a great athletic career and was smart enough to parlay it into a college degree and professional career.

What many do not recognize is just how difficult it is to achieve both athletically and academically, particularly today. A young college athlete virtually has two full time jobs with a lot of travel and off field work for the primary job. What many do not also recognize is that his/her athletic scholarship is year to year and dependent upon the whim of coaches. Perform or out.

So, what does one expect? The young athlete will concentrate on the reason that the college or university brought him/her there in the first place (to win a championship for the university). There is no reward for academic excellence, just maintain minimal academic status.

Frankly, criticism of young athletes for inappropriate priorities fails to recognize the entities that are actually setting those priorities. When a university pays a football coach over $5.5 million dollars per year, excluding endorsements and other revenue, what do you expect the priorities to be?

I think a fair approach would be to pay the young athletes while playing for the college and require a university to guarantee a four year academic scholarship for the athlete to be used after or concomitant with their playing career, at the players choice.


Posted by: Rich at January 30, 2014 9:38 PM
Comment #375973

Rich

I suppose they should make sports a major, so that the kids can do just that.

Better would be to get it in perspective. You are right that it is a big business, but it is also a self-licking ice cream cone. Sports generate big bucks and then consume them.

My point was that sports can be bad for the poor kids. Some make it and get a scholarship. Most - the vast majority - get nothing but a bad back and a lose brain.

Even if you paid athletes, it would not really change the equation. Only the elites make it onto the teams. For every professional player, there are thousands in college who don’t make it. For every college athletes, there are thousands more who wasted their time becoming almost excellent at running with a ball or tossing it through a hoop. And I say wasted time. It is great to play sports. I did. I wanted my kids to do it. But you can be healthy and happy w/o being near professional quality.

Sports is zero sum. If some people get better, it doesn’t help others and in fact hurts them. There is no collateral benefits but lots of collateral harm.

Posted by: CJ at January 30, 2014 10:36 PM
Comment #375975

C&J,

I disagree that sports are bad for poor kids. Sure, if it is their only interest or goal, it can be bad. But, when I was growing up in the city, it was a constructive and healthy way to spend otherwise free time.

Sports develop competition, appreciation for hard work, teamwork and respect for fair and earned outcome. In my opinion, those are good traits. The trick is to get these kids to generalize those traits to academics and not just sports.

Posted by: Rich at January 30, 2014 11:21 PM
Comment #375979

Rich

It depends on how much and the motivation. Sports in moderation are great. We played basketball all the time as kids and it gave us something useful to do. But we never seriously bet that we would become basketball stars.

The problem is one of exploitation and short term thinking.

Think of successful groups that have pulled themselves out of extreme poverty, I am thinking of Asians and Jewish immigrants. What they have in common is that you rarely find them among sports stars. I am not saying that an obsession with sports causes poverty, well maybe it does maintain it.

Posted by: CJ at January 31, 2014 5:25 AM
Comment #375998

What maintains an obsession with sports that can cause poverty is for one thing the amount of money that there is a potential to gain. When I was young, a professional athlete made good money, I would say upper middle class earnings. Today’s professional athletes command six and seven and even eight figure salaries and when you include the profit from endorsements and other avenues it can be a nine figure amount. This is an obscene amount of money compared to what used to be the norm but just a very small fraction of the overall billions and billions of dollars that is made at the organizational level (NFL, MLB, NCAA,etc.). This is what causes the fervor to attain professional status in young people to the degree that they sacrifice much to try to get that. And in most cases to the degree that they have no backup plan if they don’t succeed because they have a great need to succeed and don’t think they have much to use as a backup plan.

Why wouldn’t it make sense for the NCAA to make money, mentors, time and effort available to athletes that need that help. As I understand it there are some of these programs available but I don’t think they go far enough. The NFL and MLB should do this to an even greater extent. I know some people will say that is a handout but to me it is rewarding young men that will run around on a field with every intention of causing great harm to each other for our viewing pleasure. It’s the least we should do.

Posted by: Speak4all at January 31, 2014 3:13 PM
Comment #375999

MAYBE SOME KIDS JUST REALLIZE THAT THEY ARE BIGGER THAN EVERYONE ELSE? SMALL KIDS, LIKE I WAS, DON’T ATHLETISIZE. IT’S SAID WE SUCK, LIKE WICKED SUCK!

Posted by: simpleheaded at January 31, 2014 3:26 PM
Comment #376000

C&J, we agree on this topic. I will go further in saying that sports sends a mixed message to young and not so young, about competition and cooperation. Our society depends absolutely on cooperation for success. While competition is also very important, it is not as important in all endeavors. Many endeavors like education work better through cooperation than through competition, because ultimately our only competitor for learning is our present self, and the goal to improve one’s knowledge and wisdom from here. Competition is vital to markets, production, sports, and politics, but, when competition trumps cooperation, even in these endeavors, the endeavor suffers, since all these endeavors require cooperation at the outset. Competition sets the goals higher, and that’s a good thing, when the cooperation is there to achieve them.

In international affairs, cooperation for mutual benefit always trumps competition for supremacy. No conquering society in history, present nations excluded for the time being, have survived through conquest. Bad model historically. If this were not true, Alexander the Great’s descendants would still be ruling the known world.

Viewing every endeavor through the lens of competition is a fools’ view, doomed from the start where cooperation is essential to success. The ultimate competition is against our own tabula raza at birth, raising the platform from which our progeny shall write their own chapter.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 31, 2014 3:37 PM
Comment #376002

Sports teach responsibility, discipline, respect and teamwork. They also enable millions of kids to get a college education.
Yes, some dream of being a superstar and are let down, but most use their sports scholarship to get a degree and prepare for life.

And don’t be picking on hardcore sports fans, nothing wrong with them at all. Well, except for Cowboys and Seahawks fans, their teams cheat :)

Posted by: kctim at January 31, 2014 5:02 PM
Comment #376007

As a former athlete, and bow manager and coach of three different sports, I see sports in general as a very positive endeavor, no matter what the end result is.

In fact as kctim pointed out above, sports (both individual and team sports) teaches many good things. It is a microcosm of like.

It also teaches one how to deal with defeat, failure, disappointment and other real-world situations. At the very least, and even if one does not climb to the highest echelons of their sport, athletes still manage to learn about networking and forming many life-long friendships. It is these very friendships that can ‘open doors’ for them down the road.

Besides, one only lives once (aka: YOLO)! And one is only young once. So, you may as well attempt to fulfill a dream, even if that dream doesn’t pan out, at least you tried.

And even if that fails, at least you got in shape…LOL

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at January 31, 2014 6:28 PM
Comment #376008

correction above: …’both’ a manager and coach…

and…microcosm of ‘life.’

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at January 31, 2014 6:31 PM
Comment #376017

Let’s hope that these young sports players don’t get sick…

“Administrators at Seattle Children’s today said they predicted this would happen, and it’s even worse than they expected,” said the local news anchor.

“Patients being denied specialty treatment at the hospital by insurance providers on the Washington health benefits exchange. Children’s filed request on behalf of 125 of their patients. Of those, they say they got only 20 responses, eight of which were denials. Dr. Sandy Melzer says all this comes after reassurances of certain unique specialty cases would still be covered.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mhx_Xhh9ca8

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