We’d like to address an issue that every single educator, AD and school administrator is confronting: budget cuts and the impact on education.  Budget cuts hitting schools hard have been in the news for a while. Cuts are intensifying. Teachers are losing jobs. And those that “teach” athletics are losing valuable funding and support from state and cities at an even more alarming rate.

Most admit that the US Economy faces challenges because our educational system is failing to properly develop our 60 million school-aged children. This lack of “training” risks making the next crop of kids – the Millenials – less competitive on a worldwide playing field. And to boot – this “I” generation is not as in tune with the concept of “Shared sacrifice” as those that preceded us.

Something important is being lost in this debate.

To fix the root problem (educate our kids better), we must attack on all levels. We want them to be smarter, faster thinkers, better communicators. Research shows repeatedly that a well-rounded curriculum is critical to achieving this outcome, and that team athletics are a big part of the effort.  As schools struggle with budgets, it is important to not lose sight of this fact.

Teamwork. Resourcefulness. Integrity. Fair play. Discipline. Empathy. Communication. Consensus-building. Dealing with adversity. Grace under pressure. Adapt. Overcome. Survive.

Team sports in America; the schools and programs that offer them, and the coaches and volunteers that invest their lives in running them, are at the epicenter of the SOLUTION to truly educating and producing well rounded students, athletes, and human beings that can compete on all levels – in all aspects of life –  in the 21st century.  This is particularly important as families all across the country are under stress at home due to economic challenges: school-related team activities provide stability and a respite for many of the stresses that kids experience at home, but are ill-equipped to verbalize.

To deny funding to in-school and after-school athletic programs – or to somehow put the importance of these skill-building activities on a different plane than other forms of education – is a fundamental misunderstanding of what building a generation of responsible, hard-working, talented youngsters is all about.

Few middle school athletes will play one minute of college ball. But every single member of the team will benefit from the life-long values, lessons and friendships they develop while learning the game.

Let’s not sell our next generation of leaders short by cutting them off at the knees. Fund the schools. Preserve our teachers. But preserve them all – the ones in the classroom, and the ones on the field.