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Too Much Sports In High School?

A Belmont High School athlete. Picture taken sometime between 1934 - 1956 from the Leslie Jones Collection at the Boston Public Library.

A Belmont High School athlete. Picture taken sometime between 1934 – 1956 from the Leslie Jones Collection at the Boston Public Library.

In his 1910 essay on “The American Boy“, Theodore Roosevelt wrote about the value of athletics, specifically football, and the lessons that sports can teach. He said, “in life, as in a football game, the principal to follow is: hit the ground hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard.” Words to live by for millions of American high school athletes.

Or maybe not. Because those words provoke a question: what is the value of high-school sports? Before you answer, consider this: unlike most countries worldwide, the United States spends more tax dollars per high-school athlete than it does per high school math student. And we wonder why we lag in international education rankings?

That’s how writer Amanda Ripley begins a recent and provocative piece for the The Atlantic, entitled, “The Case Against High-School Sports“. She argues that compared to many other industrialized countries, American schools spend far too much money and time on sports; resources that could be spent on actual classroom learning. It’s a controversial argument, but do you think she might be right?

Guests

Amanda Ripley, writer and author of the new book, “The Smartest Kids In The World And How They Got That Way.”

Dan Lebowitz, Executive Director of the “Sport in Society” Center at Northeastern University.


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