Educational Editorial: Athletics & extra curricular activities

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Recently there was a Fredericksburg story about a student whose family had moved from homeless shelters to crowded apartments and back to shelters again.

While this young man had a sense of family, he had no sense or place or purpose. The article also reported that students frequently teased him about his "living situation"…that was the case until they discovered what Tony could do with a basketball.

With budget woes in the schools, every non-essential program is under scrutiny, and rightfully so.

Educators have frequently debated the use of terms like "curricular" and "extra or co-curricular." The first is what we teach: reading, writing and arithmetic. The second is what we do after school: sports, drama, clubs, music, and special interest activities.

It is also true that the after school programs typically have more intensely engaged boosters groups than English or math…a phenomena that can clearly distort the primary purpose of schools and college.

But, do these activities have and provide a purpose? Well both Tony and I think, "yes."

"Sports was a way out for me," Tony said. "It felt like a sense of family. It kept me out of trouble. It gave me something to do."

The Tonys' of the world and their testimonies are far more numerous than we realize. School is a place to acquire skills and knowledge -- things that we did not know and could not do before we got there.

But it is first a place and a purpose providing security and motivation, if this takes a ball, a baton, or a baritone horn, why not use it?

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.