Which is more important, sport or academics, and how can the choice be justified?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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On one hand, the wording of the question is simple enough.  Yet, the answer can be derived in so many ways that the answer is far from simple.  If we are examining what coaches should value more between sports and academics, the reality is that academics should be supported and advanced over sports.  When sports is valued more than academics, the athletes are used as a means to an end. If we value academics more than sports, then the coach becomes a figure that sees their players as ends in of themselves.  When academics is advocated, there is a greater chance that athletes will recognize that an education cannot be taken from them.  It is theirs.  More opportunities present themselves as they are empowered to make decisions about themselves and their place in the world.  If sports is advanced at the cost of academics, the athletes are placed in a terrible position.  If they suffer injury or cannot make it to "the next level," they have found themselves with limited options when they could have had more.  This is one reason why academics are more important than sports.

The reality is that our society does not seem to value this.  Athletes find the pursuit of athletics to be lucrative, something that society values through money.  This becomes a major motivation in why athletes seek to pursue the life of athletics.  From a compensation point of view, our society values sports more than academics. On average, athletes who sign contracts with professional organizations are paid more than college graduates with a degree in a specialized field.  Football players make more than teachers.  Through a compensatory point of view, academics takes a back seat to sports.  At the same time, the "sports- industrial- complex" has reached such a point that the athlete is almost funneled through it.  There is little care for their academic advancement.  Around the world, sports is a lucrative business for so many who latch themselves onto the athlete.  The athlete is almost secondary, as the complex is so driven by money that academics and the athlete's academic advancement is a distant concern.  On collegiate levels, professional levels, and even secondary school levels, the sports industrial complex of agents, handlers, and individuals who stand to make money off of the athletes that their education is not as important.  It is no longer a game when the athlete who has talent in it finds themselves subject to so much manipulation that the joy is gone and only tension remains.

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