Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Parents, school should practice common sense on sports pick

9/27/2013

Central Heights’ middle school enjoys one of the higher participation levels — 87 percent — in its athletic programs. That’s more than most other 3A schools in its league or beyond can claim. Those high numbers, however, might have more to do with students wanting to get out of elective classes, which most likely involve homework, than about the love of sports. The school’s current arrangement, which sees seventh- and eighth-grade students participate in sports during the school’s seventh hour, means they miss out on the opportunity to participate in art, introduction to forensics, study skills, yearbook/newspaper and keyboarding.

Each of those classes could be equally beneficial to students who miss out on a more rigorous academic curriculum by not participating in such enriching elective options. The student-athletes to-be who truly want to participate in the sports of their choice — cross-country, volleyball and football in the fall; and track, wrestling and basketball in the spring — stand the chance of being distracted by the students who just are there to avoid an academic class.

Central Heights’ middle school enjoys one of the higher participation levels — 87 percent — in its athletic programs. That’s more than most other 3A schools in its league or beyond can claim. Those high numbers, however, might have more to do with students wanting to get out of elective classes, which most likely involve homework, than about the love of sports. The school’s current arrangement, which sees seventh- and eighth-grade students participate in sports during the school’s seventh hour, means they miss out on the opportunity to participate in art, introduction to forensics, study skills, yearbook/newspaper and keyboarding.

Each of those classes could be equally beneficial to students who miss out on a more rigorous academic curriculum by not participating in such enriching elective options. The student-athletes to-be who truly want to participate in the sports of their choice — cross-country, volleyball and football in the fall; and track, wrestling and basketball in the spring — stand the chance of being distracted by the students who just are there to avoid an academic class.

The abbreviated (one hour and 16 minutes) “practices” during seventh hour are insufficient for kids to change into work-out clothes, stretch and condition adequately before beginning practice, then practicing long enough to learn the fundamentals of a sport and still get changed back again in time for bus rides home — so some things must be getting skipped. Skipping stretching and conditioning can and, no doubt has, resulted in injuries to the students. Skipping lessons on fundamentals of a sport can mean students are poorly prepared to compete and play by the rules, such as knowing when and how to go in for a substitution on a team, as well as not excelling on the team because of the lack of rigor.

It is understandable that middle school officials want to ensure as many kids can participate in sports as possible by having practices during the school day rather than after school, but Central Heights is a small and cohesive district with many parents who would happily give other kids a ride home from practices, as needed, to ensure as many kids as possible can participate. Parents will get to vote on the issue at the elementary and middle school’s coming parent/teacher conferences 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 28-29. Some of those parents will have to get informed in advance though, since those who haven’t been active in youth sports might not be aware of the nuances of what a vote one direction or the other will mean to their kids.

Audra Seyler, one of the parents who advocated for the change at the March 2013 Central Heights school board meeting, said it best in her presentation, noting, “By becoming more vested in our middle school athletics program, I believe Central Heights’ student-athletes will have been give the necessary tools needed to make life decisions and handle the little ‘curve balls’ that life throws at us sometimes.”

Moving middle school athletic practices after school rather than during school truly would be empowering students. Parents should vote to make the change.

 

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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