Lately I have been reading about our school district wanting to have competitive sports for seventh graders. I must be the only person who believes that this is NOT a wise plan. At the young ages of 12 and 13, kids should be learning the sport and having fun. This can and is being done through PE and intramural activities. The added pressures as well as physical risks to these young bodies to win for their school are not a good thing. Parents who want their children to compete at this age already can do so on weekends, and they can and should bear the responsibility, cost, and liability for injuries. The school district should not be paying for seventh grade competitive sports.
While sports and physical fitness are important, I believe that at the seventh grade level, students should be concentrating on time management and academic skills. Traveling distances to out-of-town games takes its toll on students’ bodies and academics. When you see school busses returning late on weeknights, those students are not really ready for class the next day.
A greater cost than travel time and risk, in my opinion, is the disruption and loss of class time, not just for the student athlete, but for many of their classmates who are not participants. Competitive sports requires coaches and assistant coaches, most of whom are teachers, (who become unavailable to help students because of after school practices). These teacher/coaches have to leave their classes with substitute teachers, who are very nice people, but not always placed in a subject of their expertise. So, the athlete misses classes, and the classes lose their teachers. This happens with nearly every out-of-town game/meet. High school students and teachers find ways to manage this persistent situation, but with seventh graders, I’m not sure.
Finally, maybe not as important as the risks and academic costs, is the added financial cost of adding seventh grade competitive sports. The already mentioned teacher/coaches and assistant coaches are paid extra, as they should be, and then there is also the cost of substitutes for the classes. The extra costs of bus drivers, fuel, and wear and tear on busses, the list goes on. The plan does help justify building a new $2,000,000 plus gymnasium, though. (Meanwhile, our district is suing the State of Kansas for more money for education, which seems weird to this taxpayer).
For the sake of the seventh grade students, their classmates, and our taxpayer dollars, I hope the effort to create a new athletic league does not work out, and that this whole idea is reconsidered.
Dee Anne Grummon