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A few days ago, I went to an awards ceremony at my grandson’s middle school. During the ceremony, the principal asked those students that participated in science competitions to stand up. In an auditorium full of approximately 300, five students rose from their seats. Next he asked the students that are involved in athletics to rise. Approximately 80 – 100 students stood up.

I should have not been surprised, I suppose. With the great emphasis put on sports, I find many youngsters turning away from subjects that would greatly benefit them in their adult lives. Even if one decides to become a carpenter, math is essential. If you work in construction, an elementary grasp of physics is necessary. A baker needs to have knowledge of chemistry to determine how ingredients will interact with each other.

I will not deny that sports provide great lessons in comradery, teamwork, and discipline, in addition to the obvious advantages in keeping ones good health. I have heard parents pay lip service to schoolwork and academics, but actions speak much louder than words. It is not enough for us to make sure that our students do their homework, enroll them in all sorts of extracurricular athletics and hope for the best. We have to nurture their talents outside of school AND outside of athletics. Why can’t a child that is a talented artist and great basketball player have both talents encouraged?

I know I am on a (very lonely) soapbox with this, but I feel strongly about it. We keep hearing about other nations quickly surpassing us in almost every way and while that seems to be news that does not touch us, I believe that changing things has to start with us.

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