If I had a million dollars, I'd build you a school.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Olympic Ideal: Do Sports And School Go Together?

My eyes are a little glazed over this morning from 48 hours of intense Olympics watching. At times like these, our DVR is both a blessing and a curse as I find myself wondering how I am ever going to have enough time to watch all the coverage we have recorded already. I guess that's what vacation is for. As a high school swimmer and college volleyball player, I love the Summer Olympics for the opportunity to see my sports featured so much. I feel like I've just walked into Willy Wonka's factory. (Also, I'm about 24 hours behind catching up with what we've recorded, so don't tell me anything that's happened since Saturday night.)

I thought I would take this opportunity, as sports and the Olympic ideal are so much on our minds, to do a series of posts on athletics in schools. Living abroad as much as we have in the last few years has given me a chance to see how much the close connection between athletics and schools, both at the high school and college levels, is, while not a uniquely American phenomenon, certainly much stronger here than almost anywhere else in the world. This close connection between athletics and academic education has its pluses and minuses. As someone for whom sports were a big part of my education, and for whom coaching has been a big part of my teaching career, I tend to think that the pluses outweigh the minuses, but I am not blind to the problems, either.

Over the next few days, I plan to explore the benefits and drawbacks of sports as an intrinsic part of a formal education. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts. What would the role of athletics be in your ideal school?

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