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Zach's Editorial: Educational athletics need to become a focus

Friday day game could become community-wide event
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Posted at 11:11 AM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 11:28:52-05

(FOX 17) — We've seen schools put a focus on pep rallies for homecoming and we've seen school field trips.

Now, it's time for school districts to put a focus on educational athletics.

The power of athletics cannot be overstated. Being a part of a sports team, no matter the level, will benefit someone for their entire life — which is why young kids in elementary schools should witness the power of it.

The fact is, not every child can attend athletic events during the week. There could be a number of different factors in a household that prevents a child from seeing an athletic event including finances, a parent's work schedule, parent's interest, and/or not having a ride to the game.

Which has led me to an idea: one basketball game, out of the 20 in the regular season, be dedicated to a Friday afternoon during the school day for the district and young students to attend.

Again, most districts will allow students out of class for field trips or a homecoming pep rally, why not an athletic event?

In fact, many of us remember being in school and taking field trips to bowling alleys or local minor league sporting events, this is no different. No, I'm not calling for this to be an every week or even an every year thing, but I truly think one game would increase interest in not only basketball, but athletics as a whole among younger and elementary level students.

Of course, this all comes with counterarguments including: "what about the parents?"

Parents typically work hard during the day and rush to their child's game and that shouldn't be undervalued. However, there are 20 games in the regular season and this would only be one of those, with a major impact on the district and the young students.

Aside from those students, think about the players and how much fun the atmosphere would be with the kids making noise and being engaged in the game.

Another counterargument I've heard is kids that don't enjoy sports won't go to school that day. I honestly think it's entirely the opposite.

As someone who attended Grand Rapids Griffins and West Michigan Whitecaps games on class field trips, many of my classmates didn't care, nor understand hockey or baseball. Yet, everyone had a smile and laughed all day during the games.

Students relish at the idea of field trips, whether it's something educational or something like a sporting event because they get to do something different outside of the classroom, I think attendance would actually increase with this idea.

Having students bus in from area elementary and middle schools to see a game on a Friday afternoon would be a special experience for them and something that they will never forget. As a kid, I'm sure many of us still remember attending pep rallies while in middle school and high school, just imagine seeing an actual varsity basketball game played!

When I originally presented this idea, I expected a lot of backlash, or athletic directors at least shooting the idea down.

Admittedly, I didn't think much about the role of administrators and how tough this could be on them and didn't think too much about the negative side. Instead, I was overwhelmed with positive comments, even from parents, who may not be able to make a Friday game during the day.

Take a look at the thread on the tweet below.

And on Facebook, several parents chimed in as well with positive reviews.

While nobody from the Michigan High School Athletic Association has gotten involved with this idea just yet, Jerry Snodgrass, the executive director of the Ohio High School Athletic Association added his thoughts on Twitter.

In fact, some schools are already doing something similar to the idea presented, including Forest Hills Northern and Forest Hills Eastern, who are taking part in "educational athletics" with a daytime hockey game. Also, wrestling programs like Lowell do this quite frequently as they are once again this year.

Now, it's time for basketball programs, and potentially other sports, to follow suit.

Another counterargument that has been presented is the visiting school, which is certainly fair.

In my eyes, you keep the matchups local, with short travel time and allow the visiting team to leave school at around 11 or 11:30 a.m., which is right around lunch time anyway. No, I don't expect the visiting school to have as much fan support at the game.

My proposal would be to schedule a type of home-and-home series, much like they do in college football. If one school plays at the other one year, the next year it would be the opposite with the visitors hosting the game, that way both districts can get involved, just in opposite years.

I do understand the trouble with travel, but I think the two-year deal would work with each school hosting its own game in order to at least try it out.

To recap, are some parents going to be upset by this idea? I don't doubt it, getting out of work to watch a day game may not be feasible.

But again, think about the kids and the impact this could potentially have on a lot of youth in your community and school district. Getting a student's eyes on a basketball game that maybe otherwise wouldn't see the game for whatever reason would be extremely beneficial to his/her interest in athletics, which can benefit them for their entire lifetime.

No, I don't expect a lot of schools to take part in this and that's okay but the idea should at least be discussed. I understand the toughness of getting most of the district on school buses in the afternoon and to the high school for a varsity basketball game. Yes, there are counterarguments and I'm sure many that I haven't discussed, but the dialogue has been presented and again, the idea should at least be discussed by athletic directors and programs.

After all, here's a look at what can happen when educational athletics becomes a focus, from Phil Butler on Facebook of a Tri County wrestling match that included the school district during the day.

Maybe I am in over my head, but there are factors that prevent a lot of youth from seeing games at night. Just because some of us were fortunate enough to have parents that were interested in bringing us to an athletic event or a parent that didn't work evenings, doesn't mean other children out there are all that fortunate.

"Educational athletics" during the school day would help build youth interest in sports and strengthen the bond between our communities and athletic teams.

NOTE: *This is solely an editorial based on my opinion and does not reflect the view of FOX 17 or any other employees*

Questions? Comments? Feel free to connect with me on Twitter and/or Facebook! Thanks for reading!