Sports inequality at the high school level: Data reveal rich-poor divide that threatens American Dream
- Article Source
Mohl, B., & Patel, H. (2015, October 13). Sports inequality at high school level – CommonWealth Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2015, from http://commonwealthmagazine.org/education/sports-inequality-at-high-school-level/
- Article Topic
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) compiles athletic participation data from public, charter, and parochial high schools across the state. Through the research given in the article, nine out of the past 10 years, the publicized narrative about the data has been the same: that athletic participation is increasing. The MIAA collected data from 376 schools across the state the of number of students participating in each sport, but didn’t account for students playing multiple sports. The average sports participation rate statewide during the 2014-15 school year was 78 percent for all 376 schools, meaning there were an average of 78 sport seasons completed for every 100 students. The state’s 10 poorest communities had an overall sports participation rate of 44 percent. The data revealed some alarming trends about how athletic participation is distributed town by town and city by city. While youth in high-income school districts are playing as many sports as ever, students in low-income communities are far less likely to participate in school athletics at all. In the state’s 10 poorest communities, the data show sports participation is 43 percent below the statewide average. In contrast, sports participation in the 10 wealthiest communities is 32 percent above the average. This rich-poor divide is interesting to note because many educators and analysts believe that participation in extracurricular activities such as sports plays a key role in academic success. Likewise, many parents see sports success as a key asset for their children when applying to college.
If municipal funding does indeed play a key role in the level of participation in sports and other extracurriculars, then a serious conversation needs to be had because the economic disparity presented here is troubling. I feel that high school athletics were a valuable part of my secondary school education experience and we need to learn how to bridge the gap between communities to provide more opportunities for all. It makes me sad that it seems that at the root of all problems, is a financial crisis. Why must money be at the centerfold of participation and upbringing?
- World Impact (if applicable)
In the article, the author wrote, “Fundamentally, this is about fairness. We talk about the achievement gap. What about the opportunity gap?” Riley asks. “Our kids have to have the same access to the American Dream as suburban kids do.” So in my own words, this creates a greater discussion rooted in opportunity for all and making sports more of a priority for all who wish to participate, regardless of income and where you live. We need to find a way.