posted on September 18, 2009 03:51
If life were perfect in Michigan school sports, we would accomplish these two objectives every year:
- We would raise the number of boys and girls participating in school-sponsored sports; and
- We would raise the standards for their participation.
Participation alone is not enough. The goal is high participation with high standards. For if we lower standards, we tend to lower the value of participation; but if we raise standards – for example, standards of eligibility and conduct – we tend to raise the value of participation to the student, to the sponsoring school and to the community in which that school is located.
Which is why we have rules and regulations in school sports: rules add value to participation.
Rules also provide validity to results. In 1907, William James put in writing a series of lectures he had given in Boston the year before titled “Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking.” Included in the third lecture is this gem:
“. . . the aim of a football team is not merely to get the ball to a certain goal (if that were so, they would simply get up on some dark night and place it there), but to get it there by a fixed machinery of conditions – the game’s rules and the opposing players;”
Without rules, and opponents playing by the same rules, there is no validity in moving the ball to the goal. Without rules, there is no value in sinking the putt, making the basket, clearing the bar, crossing the finish line. Without a regulatory scheme adhered to by all competitors, victory is hollow.