Funding reveals priorities

Bella Tollestrup-Wimbish

Sports treated as more important than academics


During my high school years, the school administration would fund trips for sports teams.

But when it came to other clubs needing to get somewhere, transportation had to be provided by the students themselves.

I was in speech and debate all four years of high school, and I was continually reminded how much my school values sports over other programs.

This hierarchy does not just distort students’ perceptions of the high value that should be placed on education, but it is also detrimental to their self-esteem.

De-prioritization communicates to students that what they do is not as important as what star sports players do. It causes them to feel like the effort they put into their activities does not deserve the same praise or achievements as athletes.

I know this is how it made me feel.

The whole American academic system places a large emphasis on sports. But this system of valuing sports over education, arts, and academics harms students in the long run.

While sports have many benefits, people forget that every human being is a different individual made with unique, and sometimes non-athletic, talents. Across the country budget cuts are happening to art and academic clubs, while more money is being put into sports.

This is perhaps one of the reasons that the American education system is failing compared to other countries.

America’s international mediocrity in education cannot be blamed on the perception that young people in America don’t care about school or are not as smart as previous generations. We do care. Education is just not what we are told to value anymore.

For all of my life, I have been told to take easy classes while playing a sport so that I can earn a college scholarship.

This is advice that most American students have been given. Sometimes it is hard to see that there are other ways students can plan out their scholastic future when they feel like what they do is not important enough.

The inflated value placed on sports is not something that just stays within high school education, it continues on to the college level as well.

The Delta Cost Project, a branch of the American Institutes for Research, published a research article “Academic Spending Versus Athletic Spending: Who Wins?”
According to the report, the growth in per-athlete spending outpaced the growth in per-student academic expenditures over that period in all subdivisions of Division I athletics.

In general, the report found that Division I universities and colleges tended to spend roughly three to six times as much on athletics.

We must stop telling young Americans that sports are more important than education, that playing a game will get the money to afford tuition, and we definitely cannot spend more money on sports than the actual knowledge itself.

Valuing sports over other programs that help young students expand their minds is a reminder of a failed system.

A system that does not take care of their teachers, a system where not every student in every state is getting a proper education to help them in college, a system that values what numbers show over the actual students themselves.

America cannot allow for this misprioritization to happen anymore if we want young Americans to flourish and continue to accomplish amazing, innovating things in the world.

We have to ask ourselves as a nation: do we want a system that cares about every students needs and achievements, or a system that is stuck on the societal glory that comes with a kick to a football?