School Sports: The Pros and Cons

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1 School Sports: The Pros and Cons Written by By Raven J. Railey (Special to The Courier-Journal) Do athletics build character? Take up valuable study time? Why are some teams more popular? And what about the disparity between boys' and girls' programs? Our panel offers some thoughts Athletes motivate students to keep grades up and manage their time, say members of The Courier-Journal's High School Round Table. Shortly before one of its members, Deuce Finch, was named Kentucky's Mr. Football, the group met to discuss high school sports. Although the panelists were generally positive about the benefits of sports, some worried about the toll sports can take in stress, injuries and extreme competition. It's been 36 years since Congress passed Title IX to promote equality in sports funding for males and females. But the round table's female athletes don't see equal community support for the girls. The High School Round Table has been a Courier-Journal tradition since This year's members were selected from among 210 applicants. Here are excerpts from their discussion. Railey: Is it tough to keep up with schoolwork and other areas of life when you play team sports? Deuce Finch, 18, senior at St. Xavier High School: To play a sport at almost any high school, you have to have a certain GPA. If you really want to play, you are going to do whatever you can to get that grade, whether it's getting a tutor or putting in more time studying. Football helps my time management because I know that I only have a certain amount of time to get my homework done and get the rest that I need. Brooke Glidewell, 16, junior at Christian Academy of Louisville: Sports makes it hard for you to hold a job and keep your studies up and get enough sleep at night. I baby-sit on occasion, but it's very on occasion because basketball changes. You'll practice one day and then you'll have a game the next day. Or you are supposed to have a two-hour practice, and your coach extends it to a three-hour practice because you got in trouble and you had to run for an hour. There's no way that I could keep a job.

2 As soon as I am done with basketball, I am probably up until 10 or 10:30 just doing homework. It's hard. But I love basketball and that's why I do it every day. Lauren Bradley, 16, junior at Assumption High School: I focus on my homework, and I take advantage of my studying at school. During lacrosse, I never watch TV. My grades are my best when I am playing a sport. Kamahl Hess Jr., 14, freshman at Central High School: Some of us have to stay after to practice for an hour, to do play reviews, watch film, watch other schools and go to other schools' games. I don't get home until 10:30 and I am taking AP classes. I have a college math class. Calculus is not easy. You are a student-athlete, but your athlete part takes over a lot of your student part. It's a balance between your social time and the other things you get to do as well. Tisis Spalding, 17, junior at Bardstown High School: I don't play sports, but I have friends that play soccer, basketball. I see that it's a struggle. Some people might not have the money to make it to college from their parents. They have to earn scholarships, and the only way that they can do that is by playing a sport or being in AP classes. I just wish some of the teachers would be a little bit more considerate. I am not asking for them to get an easy grade or give them extra credit so they'll pass. Teachers are like, "My job is so hard." But the student's job is hard too. Michael Clark, 17, junior at Valley Traditional High School: Teachers don't care, and it's because you signed up for that class. You made the decision to put yourself in that position. I have the same issue. My parents told me straight up, they feel like I am a stranger in the house now because I hardly ever come home. That's the life we all choose as student-athletes. The easiest solution is to just know your limits and don't sign up for everything. Brooke: I don't want to take the honors classes and have to stay up for hours after practice, but it's something I need to do to get into a great college and to get into a great career. I want to go to Dartmouth, and I can't do that just on athletics alone. Are rivalries and competitiveness a positive thing?

3 Ash Lacy, 19, senior at Danville High School: It's good that people have school spirit and they are proud of where they come from. But I think it can go a little far with schools doing other stuff to schools, like spray painting or doing stuff to their mascots. Lauren: Our rival is Sacred Heart (Academy), and when we are about to play them in anything, it's really intense. They can go a little overboard, but it's good because everybody comes out and supports the games. Victoria Wilson, 17, senior at Rock Creek Christian Academy in Sellersburg, Ind.: It gets our players more pumped up. When I went to Jeff (Jeffersonville High School) vs. New Albany (High School), it was a little brutal sometimes. It's all for the fun of the sport. Tisis: It gives you more heart to play harder. Our pep club got together a whole bunch of different chants, and the next time we were against Nelson County, we were ready for war. Everybody was there. It was filled up with red, purple. And we beat them. It was a really fun game. It's good to be competitive sometimes. Brooke: I have tons of friends on all different teams. It's fun to play your friend. You play harder to beat your friend. You push yourself to be just a little bit better. When you don't talk to your friend after they beat you or you act like you are better than that friend if you beat them, that goes a little too far. Deuce: Every time you go out on a field or on a court or anything, you should give your all. To me, people who aren't competitive don't always try their hardest or try for the team. Michael: It's healthy. It's what pumps people up. Are some sports given more prestige in school? Brooke: Football gets more recognition than girls' basketball. They get all the money, they get the buses for games, they get new uniforms. They are building a complex for them. Football games do bring in people, so I know that they bring in money. The girls' basketball team, we don't get very many fans in our stands.

4 There are other sports that don't get enough recognition: cross country, girls' field hockey. Girls' sports in general don't get as much recognition as guy sports. Tisis: At our school, basketball and football are really, really popular. Our girls' basketball was a little bit better than the boys. But still, you'll see a whole lot more people at boys' basketball. Victoria: It's all about gender bias. We had our first basketball game against Henryville. We had seven people in the stands for our team. Henryville had, like, eight maybe? When the boys' basketball games come, we have no room. People are standing. Lauren: I am at an all-girls school. Not that many people come to our games unless it's a big rival game. Lacrosse wasn't that popular a few years ago. It's just now becoming a big sport at our school because we are actually winning. Candace Hardin, 18, senior at Liberty High School: When I went to Iroquois (High School), it was the opposite. The best team we had was the girls' basketball team. I remember going on school field trips. The whole school would take this nice bus to wherever the state game would be. Everybody supported our girls' team. Ash: Some schools, some teams do get more recognition. I don't necessarily think that's right. It's probably that they are going to bring in more money. Of course, schools don't get a lot of funding these days. Kamahl: I play varsity basketball and we are sponsored by a lot more people than the girls are. We take pride in all our sports, but our main sports are football, basketball and wrestling. Not all sports end up in the paper and on TV. Michael: Our wrestling team, we get no recognition. Our girls' basketball, our boys' basketball and football, they get way more than we do. We think it isn't fair. Most people will put down wrestling. They'll stereotype it real bad so people won't come out.

5 We have football players that come out (to play), but then they'll quit because of the harsh conditioning that we have to go through in order to maintain weight. Deuce: Football, at my school at least, gets a lot more people than other sports. A lot more people go to the football games than to the basketball games. Brooke: Football, basketball, baseball and soccer are your top sports. It's always guys first and then the girls. Go to a college women's U of L basketball game. Tickets are $2 (group price). Not even the floor seats are packed. A U of L men's game, we pay $50 per ticket to sit where we sit on the floor. Every single seat in that house is jam-packed, and you've still got people trying to get in. Tisis: Also, it's about winning, whoever wins the most games. Our track team made it to state, and we won -- the guys did, at least. They got these big huge rings. They got lettermen's jackets with the big feet on them with the wings. Victoria: We don't have a football team. We struggle to get people for anything except for boys' basketball. Last year, there was no girls' soccer team. There was another girl and I on the boys' soccer team playing against the boys. I don't think it's all about winning. It's also about the school support, and I don't see it there. Lauren: My school is known for their volleyball team. I have never been to a volleyball game. They don't get that much support and they really should. We have a varsity club, and they are motivating people to go to games and cheer for our teams. That's good. Kamahl: People like Deuce -- he's one of the best football players in this state -- he should be able to get that kind of recognition because he is that good. He worked to get it. Some people like to watch football. Some people are basketball fans. You don't normally watch somebody swim on TV. You don't normally watch soccer. Female sports should be supported more. I go to our girls' games. Victoria: I think the girls work just as hard. My coach was a Marine, so we do all our exercises Marine-style. We run like the Marines. We feel the burn like the Marines.

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