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How sports and arts funding cuts in high schools affect students

Posted by mandyf on April 16, 2012

Discipline, teamwork, creativity, and a healthy competitive spirit are all traits the leaders of tomorrow should have the opportunity to build today. For many the best way to develop these qualities is through school based arts and sports programs. The sad fact is that in these days we are living in such programs are often seen as luxuries to schools with tight budgets, or diversions which draw students and resources away from other programs touted as more important.

 Consider for a moment all the benefits each provides to a developing mind an body. Studying the arts allows a student to open their mind and explore a multitude of venues for expressing their individual creativity. It matters little whether a person chooses a musical instrument, charcoal pencils, a paintbrush, clay, or even the pen as the instrument they use to channel their vision. Not providing a person the tools and support need to explore such desires is akin to saying they are unimportant, that they hold no value, and are trivial. What a drab and colorless world we would have without the artists! Lest we forget many of the worlds great minds combined the arts with other pursuits to work they way towards great achievements. We can only wonder if Leonardo da Vinci would have made such astounding breakthroughs had his creative side not been nurtured.

The arts go beyond providing an outlet for ones creative bent, they in fact reinforce individuality and co-operative work at the same time. Individuality can be seen in the hours one spends honing their skills as perhaps a flautist. Alone the flautist may create beautiful moving music which is a joy for all. However there will be times she or he is called upon to join with other musicians and combine their individual talents refined through individual practice to be a part of an orchestra where all must work as one in order to achieve the goal of making music.

Sports are no different in this regard. The football team is no good if each member plays as an individual. One man or woman cannot defeat a team. However by playing as a unit the linemen work together to protect their quarterback, the halfback stays back to further ward off potential pursuers of the quarter back. The tight end may run a diversionary pattern so that the wide receiver can find that one open spot on the field where the quarterback can perfectly place a pass to achieve the gain which is sought. That doesn’t all happen by chance, it is hours of practice each day to learn the skills and how to handle each possible permutation caused by varying defenses.

Even sports often thought of as individualistic in nature foster these same skills. For instance in track there is both individual and team scoring. Before the meet is ever reached the team works together each day running as a group. They learn to encourage each other, work with each other, and how to best apply their talents for a common goal which is team victory. As such an athlete may often be called upon to try new things to help the squad or perhaps even fore go their best event so that a greater team strategy can be realized. This goes a long way to teaching that the sum is greater than the parts and everyone has to do their role for the ultimate greater good.

 Arts and sports programs also often provide these students with an opportunity for a higher education. College is expensive and for many these programs provide what may be their only reasonable chance to win scholarships. To take away something which provides this opportunity is to kill a dream. Even if a scholarship is never realized, cutting such programs takes away the opportunity for many to create positive memories and relationships which may be some of the strongest, best, and most lasting of their life. It takes away the opportunity many will have to travel for competition and performances, for some perhaps for the first time. It steals an opportunity to build maturity and a feeling of self worth.

Beyond these factors there exists a myriad of benefits which are the direct product of these programs. Athletes and artists are often happier because they are participating in something they are passionate about. A happy student is generally a better student. They work harder to maintain their academic standards because failure to do so may result in being removed from art or athletic programs. They tend to have goals and it is no secret that people who set and achieve goals enjoy more success than those that do not. They develop stronger social skills because they are mingling with a more diverse group of people. Finally their achievement in artistic or athletic pursuits raises the spirit and pride among all students. Schools with strong programs in the arts or sports are schools which draw not just the student body to watch and appreciate their efforts but the community as a whole. Anything which can do that is a positive thing. Cutting these programs effectively erases all the above mentioned benefits.

Arts and athletics in the school are an integral part of the development of the minds and bodies of our youth. They are not simple extracurricular activities that give their participants a way to kill time. Not having such programs available sends the wrong message to our youth and robs not just them but the world of the potential they could realize if only given an opportunity.

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One Response to “How sports and arts funding cuts in high schools affect students”

  1. Tom Laing said

    Couldn’t agree more Mandy – a well rounded citizen of any country needs well developed mind, body and spirit, and it is very short sighted policy makers who cut out the activities that develop these qualities to focus only on the three r’s. Must be bean counters themselves and the world needs more beans.

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