Letter to the editor: High school sports are worth every dollar and more.

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Hailey Gavin-Wences, 15, right, grabs a flag as she tries out for the Redondo Union High School girls flag football team on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in Redondo Beach, Calif. Southern California high school sports officials will meet on Thursday, Sept. 29, to consider making girls flag football an official high school sport. This comes amid growth in the sport at the collegiate level and a push by the NFL to increase interest. AP Photo/Ashley Landis

On Monday, October 10th, an article ran in The Daily Campus asked the question, “Are high school sports worth the cost?” Unfortunately, besides the brief mention of the multitude of positives — only four sentences — the article was overwhelmingly negative focusing only on the monetary cost to the school district. Contributor Youssef Macary uses his hometown as an example, so I’ll do the same with mine. Unlike Wolcott, my hometown of South Windsor is a reasonably large town in Hartford county, about 25 minutes from the Storrs campus. My graduating class was about 325 students, with the school’s total population about 1,300 students.  

According to the South Windsor Board of Education budget, they spend $886,069 on athletics, including personnel and the program for both high school and middle school. Compare this to the $3.3 million South Windsor spends on the science program for K-12. Almost four times more. Not as bleak as Macary makes it out to be. 

But I have a follow-up question: does the amount the athletic program costs matter? Let’s say that it was as bad as Macary says. Why shouldn’t we spend money on athletics? Macary says that football is merely “where high school students chase a ball and tackle each other.” When I was part of my high school’s sports teams, I learned essential concepts about life that in some ways are more fundamental than, say, knowing that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Sports can teach respect, discipline and sportsmanship, as well as what it takes to succeed and how to respond to failure. Students also have the opportunity to have a different kind of family — a brother or sisterhood that they might not have at home. Coaches often take on a parental-like role, helping students negotiate life’s challenges both on and off the field.   

Athletics are about learning to be a well-rounded student. They allow participants to grow emotionally, physically and mentally. Macary’s last statement is that Wolcott spent all of this money just to go 3-7, which just goes to show how much he missed the point. It’s not about winning or losing. For most, it’s not even about playing. It’s about being a part of a team, having the backs of their teammates and learning what all that means.  

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