High schools across the state, colleges and university across the country competed this weekend for basketball championships. For some it will be the culmination of a playing career for others it will be another step on the road of competition.
As a single moment in time the outcome of each game is important to the players and fans but the real reward is not found on the court in a single play or final score. No the real value is found over a season.
Participation in high school sports is pure amateur competition. It is the memory of the road taken together through a season that they will remember, the bonding, the thrill of victory and success they had together as a team. Win or lose the players will remember their moments of joy and the experience of the season for life. They may not recall the scores, wins and losses but 30 years from now they will remember the journey and the “brothers or sisters” they played with. In the game of life they all won something this year; life lessons and memories.
Too often our emphasis is placed on winning and losing, too often we lose sight of the benefits of sports participation. Too often we measure success in terms of playing time or points scored; we forget the importance and role of participation in education and life experience. Too often we equate amateur sports participation to professional sports where winning is the only ultimate goal, where losing means coming up short and losses are never moral victories.
Soon the entire nation will turn some level of attention to “March Madness” the annual national NCAA Basketball Tournament for men and women to crown a national champion. We will see great moments of emotion with tears of joy and tears of disappointment, but the real memory for the players will be the road traveled since October. Not all of education comes in a classroom there is much we learn about life on courts and fields. Why would we risk losing these moments?
There is another road of “March Madness”, a political road that raises an ugly head in too many communities and too often in March. Too often as budgets are formulated and adjusted we see politicians place sports on the chopping block. While it may be an easy political move to create emotional support for higher spending it is “March Madness” at its’ worse.
Threatening students and using their emotions and enthusiasm to reach political goals is flat out wrong. It is the wrong road for adult leadership and the wrong road for the long-term goals of education. It is equally wrong to reach into the pockets of students to support sports participation as it would be to charge them to take a math or science course.
Have you ever wondered why students and parents are charged admission to view a student play basketball but are not charge to watch baseball, soccer or volleyball? Ever wonder why taxpayers spend millions of dollars on education and yet when they want to view a student and evaluate their performance in a school play they are charged to view what their tax dollars have paid for to produce? Just another form of “March Madness”