In his 1910 essay on “The Amer­ican Boy“, Theodore Roo­sevelt wrote about the value of ath­letics, specif­i­cally foot­ball, and the lessons that sports can teach. He said, “in life, as in a foot­ball game, the prin­cipal to follow is: hit the ground hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard.” Words to live by for mil­lions of Amer­ican high school athletes.

Or maybe not. Because those words pro­voke a ques­tion: what is the value of high-​​school sports? Before you answer, con­sider this: unlike most coun­tries world­wide, the United States spends more tax dol­lars per high-​​school ath­lete than it does per high school math stu­dent. And we wonder why we lag in inter­na­tional edu­ca­tion rankings?

That’s how writer Amanda Ripley begins a recent and provoca­tive piece for the The Atlantic, enti­tled, “The Case Against High-​​School Sports“. She argues that com­pared to many other indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries, Amer­ican schools spend far too much money and time on sports; resources that could be spent on actual class­room learning. It’s a con­tro­ver­sial argu­ment, but do you think she might be right?


Amanda Ripley, writer and author of the new book, “The Smartest Kids In The World And How They Got That Way.”

Dan Lebowitz, Exec­u­tive Director of the “Sport in Society” Center at North­eastern University.

Read the article at WBUR →