Perspective: The Lessons of Sports and the Performing Arts-How Do They Contribute to Overall Education?


I am all for sports. I believe that kids participating in sports learn valuable lessons. It provides fun, entertainment and an opportunity for teamwork.  Several issues exist that need attention. Everyone has become aware of the crazy “live though your child’s successes” parents who push their children to excel at sports, for club or school. This problem isn’t just in sports; it translates to everything. I think it is sometimes more obvious in sports because there are parents screaming at their children during games, pounding on the glass at the rink or traveling up and down the field coaching from the side. Yes, I have been there. I have seen more than my share. Kids are sometimes encouraged to “go get the other guy” (he may even be on your team) to seek validation. It really is ugly and not in any way about teamwork, collaboration and good sportsmanship. I don’t want to leave out the good guys, the mentors and coaches who do this for the good of the sport or the love of the game. They are out there and appreciated. The truth of the whole picture can’t be ignored. I long for the good lessons of sports – discipline, hard work, the process of development and the camaraderie of working with others to accomplish a goal.  All noble pursuits!

So what is the problem?  Sports has become much more than a metaphor for life. It is the be all of a participant’s existence. It is the free ride to the college of choice and even better, a professional career with mega bucks attached.

That is the problem. What are the odds of your child getting this ultimate benefit-money and fame?  Isn’t it enough for them to do something they love with other kids and feel good? Learn something for life? Sports really are a metaphor for life.

Everything has become about the BIG goal–arrive at the ultimate destination or it has no value. The performing arts are the same. They teach so much, and sometimes parents are willing to let kids do this on a lesser level just because they don’t know what’s out there in the real world. Sports and star athletes are everywhere on television and other media. Concert violinists are not. They have worked equally as hard, maybe harder for less payoff and only a few will ever be a household name. They will not be involved in scandals that you will read about and see scrolling across your TV screen. The value in studying the arts is there and the lessons that come from that study have similar value to sports. Discipline, deliberate practice and PROCESS.

Music, dance, drama and sports all have incredible value in education. They teach lessons that connect to history, social studies, math and science. Ever thought about spatial relations in terms of the space your body takes when you move? Dance?  Rhythmic notation is real-life fractions. Sound is about physics. Movement and sports all involve physics. Sports equipment is engineered at a high level with sophisticated materials these days. And of course, the possibility to use the imagination is huge – innovate and create. No two situations are ever the same.

Let’s keep the benefits and lose the craziness. Perspective is key.

Categories: 21st Century Education, arts and business, Arts Integrated Education, Bullying, Education reform, Innovation, mentors, social/emotional wellness, STEAM, STEM education, Uncategorized, youth sportsTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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