Most schools do not staff, manage, transport, insure, or glorify sports teams, because, well, why would they?
When I was growing up in New Jersey, not far from where Jenny now lives, I played soccer from age 7 to 17.
When I surveyed about 200 former exchange students last year, in cooperation with an international exchange organization called AFS, nine out of 10 foreign students who had lived in the U. said that kids here cared more about sports than their peers back home did.
A majority of Americans who’d studied abroad agreed.
Its campus has lush grass fields, six tennis courts, and an athletic Hall of Fame.
“They have days when teams dress up in Hawaiian clothes or pajamas just because—‘We’re the soccer team! (To protect the privacy of Jenny and other students in this story, only their first names are used.)By contrast, in South Korea, whose 15-year-olds rank fourth in the world (behind Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong) on a test of critical thinking in math, Jenny’s classmates played pickup soccer on a dirt field at lunchtime.They brought badminton rackets from home and pretended there was a net.If they made it into the newspaper, it was usually for their academic accomplishments.One element of our education system consistently surprises them: “Sports are a big deal here,” says Jenny, who moved to America from South Korea with her family in 2011.Shawnee High, her public school in southern New Jersey, fields teams in 18 sports over the course of the school year, including golf and bowling.I was relieved to find a place where girls were not expected to sit quietly or look pretty, and I still love the game.Like most other Americans, I can rattle off the many benefits of high-school sports: exercise, lessons in sportsmanship and perseverance, school spirit, and just plain fun.All of those things matter, and Jenny finds it refreshing to attend a school that is about so much more than academics.But as I’ve traveled around the world visiting places that do things differently—and get better results—I’ve started to wonder about the trade-offs we make.But officials reversed course the next year, re-allowing football, with revised rules.The National Collegiate Athletic Association had emerged by this time, as a means of reforming the increasingly brutal sport of college football.