Don’t cut sports to save money, urges Jay Mathews in the Washington Post. Students learn leadership and responsibility through extra-curriculars.
He cites education analyst Craig Jerald’s report on “life and career skills,” which are said to include “flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility.”
(Jerald) quotes a 2005 paper by economists Peter Kuhn and Catherine Weinberger for the Journal of Labor Economics: “Controlling for cognitive skills,” they said, “men who occupied leadership positions in high school earn more as adults. The pure leadership-wage effect varies, depending on definitions and time period, from 4 percent to 33 percent.” A Mathematica Policy Research study also shows that although math had the biggest impact of any skill on later earnings, playing sports and having a leadership role in high school also were significant factors.
But perhaps active, healthy students who take leadership roles start with more leadership abilities than their coach-potato classmates.
Kuhn and Weinberger found evidence, Jerald said, “that leadership is not just a natural talent, but one that can be developed by participation in extracurricular activities.”
I’d hate to see sports go, but let’s protect the mock trial team, the robotics club and the theater program too. There are lots of ways to learn life skills.