Decades ago there was much criticism from college and university physical education departments that schools were sacrificing broad-based programs of intramurals and recreation for higher-profile programs of interscholastic sports teams.
Today, broad-based intramural/recreational programs have all but vanished from schools; and the criticism now is that elite community club and travel teams threaten the broad and deep interscholastic athletic program schools have been providing students.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen the image of school sports go from elitist to egalitarian. From a few sports teams for boys in the 1950s, to teams on multiple levels in many sports for both boys and girls today.
Over the same period when the public profile of school sports has been diminished by many societal trends but especially the ascendancy of major college and professional sports riding the proliferation of television sets and rising profits from sports broadcasts, the breadth and depth of school sports was busy expanding the circle for which it provides opportunities to play.
The irony is that in this time of school sports’ greatest inclusion, school sports is on its weakest financial footing. When it is doing the most, school sports is being supported the least.
It’s an indefensible, unsustainable trend that must be addressed by those who control the purse strings of state government and local school districts.