When I first started teaching in the school district I currently teach in, wrestling ruled the community. If you were a wrestler, you were given preferential treatment: the budget for the wrestling program may not have looked like much but the club funds were unlimited and greater than all the other sports’ budgets combined. Football was pretty important and was only second to wrestling.
Well, after an incident here and there, wrestling’s stature declined to a more rational level. Football’s though rose. As we went through the Bush W years, prep football in my town and at my school become the end all be all program. They could do no wrong. Although the football program has progressed all the way to the finals in their respective HS division more than once in the past 10 years their progress that far may have happened once, less than a handful playoff wins past the first round have occurred and the past few years, the loses have exceeded the wins. This year only one varsity win against a JV team. Instead of stepping back and saying the money spent on promoting this sport could outfit all of our HS students with their own laptop, classrooms with up-to-date technology–perhaps the typewriter can go. . . – and we can actually quit teaching 21st Century skills as if the 21st century is coming but hasn’t arrived yet.
There is that irony I see that as the emphasis of sports increases, the winning of games decreases. As the number of participants decreases, the amount of money spent increases. Just think if we did that with academics? Then testing might make sense.