Sports vs. Academics

February 23, 2018

Think about the last time you attended a sporting event here at GCHS. You probably had a good time, right? Our school works hard to make every event special, and our student section is one of the best and loudest in the area. The games themselves are electrifying, and we have so many fantastic athletes that it’s difficult to focus on just one talent. Sporting events here rarely disappoint.

Now try to remember the last time you attended an event for one of our academic clubs. It’s a bit more difficult, isn’t it? When was the last time you talked to your friends about your plans to attend the next scholar bowl tournament? Chances are, you don’t think about our academic teams nearly as much as our athletic teams. This is a problem.

Our academic teams are incredibly underrepresented. We often see sports take the spotlight, but at what cost? It is detrimental to place non-athletic extracurricular activities on the back burner. When we do this, we risk their extinction, we make it easier to underfund these clubs, and we prevent students from joining these activities.

Why is this happening? Why do we hear so much more about the football team than we do the debate team? The answer is relatively simple—mainstream media.

Now, it sounds like a scapegoat to say that the media is causing all of our problems, but in this case, the media actually plays a large role. In movies, people on sports teams are portrayed as mostly likeable, having many friends and usually being the more “popular” kids in school. People on academic teams or clubs are portrayed as “nerdy” or even “creepy.” This is a stereotype that harms student turnout for these activities. Nobody wants to be seen as the nerd, especially not in the beginning of high school, extremely formative years.

Chances are, you don’t think about our academic teams nearly as much as our athletic teams. This is a problem.”

— Emma Vinson

GCHS’ Athletic Director, Mr. John Moad, agrees that academic activities are just as important as athletics. However, he says that “…it’s past the point of changing.” Perhaps this is true, but if we keep perpetuating stereotypes that make these activities undesirable, they will eventually die due to lack of student participation. We are already seeing cuts in funding for the arts. If we prove to legislators that this is a good decision, the problem will only get worse. It’ll move to the least populated activities, and eventually, it’ll kill academic activities altogether.

The other problem surrounding the media is that we never see equal representation of academia. We have several TV channels and news outlets dedicated solely to sports entertainment, and the owners of these outlets are filthy rich. How often do we see professional mathletes? Moad also points out that “[Sports-based media] is deeply ingrained in our society at this point.” When we show the public that sports are not only more entertaining, but more profitable, we are telling young people that they should gravitate towards them.

Overall, GCHS creates a diverse atmosphere for many after-school clubs and teams. We have everything from scholar bowl to the bowling team, and we take pride in every single one of them. Just imagine the waves we could make if we exalted academia like we do sports. We could start a small revolution if we wanted to.

So, GCHS, next time you’re cheering for your friend on the soccer field, think about your friend on the math team. They want to be cheered for, too.

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