Stop cutting sports programs

As a student in high school, I was never the most outspoken nor the most popular on campus. I grew up with constant discouragement from my peers who never failed to remind me that I was not good enough to fit in with the cool kids.

After joining the football team, I made friends and was able to gain self-discipline and a greater self-esteem that had eluded me for so many years. It showed me that working as a unit with a separate group of individuals, who were strangers at first, really helped in my social interaction with others.

With sports programs across the nation being among the first to receive the axe during school budget cuts, student-athletes everywhere are being deprived of what could be life-changing experiences as these programs are wrongly deemed expendable.

An athletic program does not serve solely as an excuse for barbaric activity. It should not be used as a scapegoat for a flawed education system. Whether hypocritical skeptics like it or not, school sports have a bigger purpose than providing just another extracurricular activity to a student's resume.

In an email interview, Santa Monica College head football coach Gifford Lindheim describes sports as "a huge part of American culture."

"It is viewed as a positive activity for kids to get involved in, teaching the values of teamwork, sportsmanship, toughness and skill," says Lindheim.

Sure, some students don't need sports teams or clubs to garner the attention that other students may never receive, but for anyone looking to find confidence in themselves, athletic programs are a useful asset.

Many people make the assumption that athletes just sit around and waste away what people think should be their number one priority of academics.

That is a ridiculous assumption, as these programs sometimes restrain certain students from potentially taking part in self-destructive activities such as gang violence and drug use.

Students who might not be as socially active tend to make friends and are able to become more involved, rather than treading through school with no goals or purpose.

But the programs continue to be cut as schools attempt to preserve money and cannot think with all of their knowledge of what is best for students of alternative solutions to fix their own self-imposed problems.

According to a Washington Post article, in 2012, the University of Maryland cut seven sports programs in an effort to eliminate a multimillion dollar deficit, which could rise to $17 million by 2017.

The article states that the programs were not able to raise the funds required to keep them, so therefore, the school was forced to eliminate them.

The programs given the boot included men's and women's swimming, men's tennis, women's water polo, acrobatics and tumbling, and cross country. A total of 131 student athletes were left unable to play their respective sports.

A single student might have depended on his or her sports team as a refuge away from a troubled social life. Athletics programs also foster motivation for student-athletes to better themselves academically.

Livestrong, an organization that provides support for cancer patients and does outreach with various athletes, states on its website that sports assist children in attaining stronger self-confidence, and reduce anxiety and depression, all of which are essential to a student's performance in school.

Whether it is football, baseball, basketball, soccer, or tennis, the underappreciated value that an athletic program can bring to a student is unparalleled.

Sports teams do have a purpose, one that no midterm nor placement test can ever match.

SportsJonathan RamosComment