Critical and inherent to the interscholastic athletic system is educational quality. Scholastic requirements are at the foundation of school sports – student-athletes must perform in the classroom to earn the privilege of representing their respective schools. Such standards are meant not strictly as regulatory devices but as vehicles of development of student-athletes for future success.
Many schools also establish mandatory codes of conduct for student-athletes to participate in interscholastic athletics. This is coupled with the roles of high school coaches and administrators as role models and mentors for student-athletes. They have received the proper training to work with children and teach the athletic skills of the game, in addition to fostering a special bond for positive development. These benefits demonstrate the importance of appropriate behavior and success in a fashion that club sports do not provide.
Some parents feel that club sports provide an increased focus on specialization in sport at a young age, and that this specialization paves the way for their child to receive a college scholarship. In actuality, a very small percentage of students earn athletic scholarships, and the overwhelming majority will spend more money for club sports than they wish to count – sometimes equaling the cost of college expenses. A proper education enhanced by participating in high school athletics offers the ideal preparation for a collegiate athletic career.
The mission of high school athletics is for the student-athletes to be successful, to gain information, knowledge and skills they can apply in problem solving and to become better citizens in the classroom and in their daily lives. If there is no educational value inherent within our programs, then we have no business providing sports in a high school setting.
The LHSAA and its member institutions are here to educate the entire student, not just the athlete, and there are many lessons one can learn through participating in high school athletics. High school sports are more than wins and losses – they teach lifelong skills like teamwork, self-motivation and being a part of something bigger than one’s self.
Kenny Henderson is executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA).