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Michelle Clark

Elizabeth Kolbert writes an interesting article about America’s schools and how the sports teams are interfering with academics. I came from a big city high school where sports, especially football, were the main focus. I have great memories of pep rallies, late night games, and school spirit as far as the eye can see. The standard way of thinking about the topic of sports in high schools is that it is necessary for the growth of the student and gives that student a well-rounded experience.

After reading Kolbert’s article, I agree with Kolbert up to a point. I do feel that sports are good for children and help them to build confidence. But, as Kolbert states in her article, a child can have that experience outside of school. It is true that the state of American schools is mediocre compared to other countries. A solution to this problem may be to create an academic atmosphere during school and leave the extra curricular activities for outside the school.

I have a daughter who is currently enrolled in a charter school in Philadelphia. This charter school’s main focus is Math and Science. There are different social clubs and sports teams associated with the school but it is obvious that the spotlight is on academics. The school ranks very high every year in standardize testing and has a 97 % graduation rate. This charter school centers their attention on preparing the children for college and for their adult life by practicing critical thinking and a heavy hand in technology. They strive to be the best and they show their school spirit and school pride for academics. They have pep rallies before big exams. This is just another way to educate our children and in my opinion, it works very well.

As Kolbert points out, “American high schools lavish more time and money on sports than math”. I agree fully and add that it is time to change the way our American school system works. Ultimately, what is at stake here is the future well being of our children.

Orsiol Sacdanaku

High school is one of the keys to the future. The education we receive in high school is fundamental to our college education and our future careers. Sports teaches an individual to be selfless. They teach individuals to work as a team. These team work skills come in handy later in life.
In elementary school, due to poor behavior children lose their recess or free time. Recess is the one place where children release their frustration and irritation. What many people fail to realize is that high school offers students the same thing. Being part of high school sports develops motor skills, maintains a healthy exercise program, and provides for a release when school work becomes too much to handle. Most high school sport programs require that a student have at least a C average in order to participate. School sports helps children socialize with other children, helps them bond with their parents, and it increases their self-esteem.
It boosts school morale when students meet to cheer for their team. While sports sometimes is a distraction from school, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Most teenagers need an outlet to connect with other their own age. This helps students have pride in something and this will help them in the long run. This increased interest in school generally results in increased enjoyment in academics, resulting in better overall test scores and grades.
As an adult, I look back at my high school years, and I have to say that the most memorable times were the times spent around sport activities. I look back at these memories and they still bring a sense of pride back. I remember everything fondly and I would want my children to experience the same thing. Academics are fundamental but in order to succeed at something we have to love it.

Natasha Hare

After reading Elizabeth Kobert’s vision on high school sports and academics. She argues that high school sports have a major interference with academics. I sense she’s saying academics are under supported and sports are overly encouraged. Kobert employs many significant examples in her argument.

In Kolberts argument the case she used froma Amanda Ripleys book “The Smartest Kids in the World” proved a incredibly applicable point. This case examines how Poland students test scores have risen from below average in less than a decade. Furthermore those same students now out smart American students. One pivotal fact here is that school sports are nonexistent in countries like this. I believe what Kolbert is trying to explain is that the whole meaning of school has somewhat been misconstrued in America. School is here principally for academics and sports are presumed to be extracurricular.

I without a doubt agree with Kolbert’s vision. Sports are a hot commodity in schools these days and education is not supported as much as sports. Case in point, a student who graduates high school with honors gest a pat on the back and best wishes. Yet, a student athlete who graduates and gets drafted to the NBA could possibly get the school gym named after him.


I believe sports have taken over schools.
Unless you are playing football,nothing
Else matters. Drama,band,art, even scholastic clubs.


I believe on her behave is what she was trying to point out is that sports has a huge impact on a teens life. Teenagers are scattered brained and the only thing that is keeping them in school is the sports, but should that even matter? I strongly believe for sports. I believe that a teenager should have something to look forward to and I strongly believe it is keeping them out of trouble.

Vanessa Vega

I agree with Kobert’s statement that in the high schools sports seem to have a higher priority than education. Instead of high school emphasizing so much on sports teams they should turn the attention on students becoming better learners. The reason why United States schools have such bad test results is because students are not taught how to prioritize things. Like Kobert writes, “I wondered what would have happened if their math teacher had tried to call them in two weeks before school started to hold two-hour drill sessions. My sons would have been livid, as would every other kid in their class. Perhaps even more significant, I suspect that parents would have complained.” High schools students only look forward to going to school because of the pep rallies, sport games, and prom. I do not think that there are students who look forward to going to rallies that talk about test skills or taking actual exams. Once school is over summer arrives and while students in the United States are busy hanging out, foreign students are still studying.

Even though I agree that sports could be good outlets for students, I think they should be more of a reward. High school is important because is where you build your learning foundation to go to college. Instead of sports teams accepting students with C letter grades, they should only accept those who have A’s. Those students who have A’s on their class are hard workers, determined and goal oriented, which are the students that should be allow to be on teams. By doing that only those students who are able to balance, schoolwork and sports will be the ones who will get to be part of the teams. Perhaps then, students in America will learn that in order to get the things they want they will need to do better in school. If students’ main motivations are pep rallies and sports, America students will never improve on their test scores.

Kylie Hughes

I agree with Kobert that some schools may seem to lean towards sports rather than education. In my school, students must have a passing grade to keep on participating in their sports. The school does a grade check every three weeks so that does keep students studying and motivated to keep their grades up. This system seems to work well, so if every school was required to have this policy, I think it would be a great way of balancing both sports and education.

Hannah Butler

High school athletics are beneficial in a way that they provide equal opportunities for students to stay involved in their communities and maintain healthy bodies. I agree with Kolbert in the fact that some schools should reconsider their priorities, but there are other solutions to the problem other than getting rid of high school sports all together. I concur with the idea that sports in schools are valuable to students and should stick around, but that there are ways to shift more focus to academics while still having athletic teams. Sports have the ability to boost confidence, communication, and teamwork skills and these are not traits that can be learned simply by improving test scores. It is brought to attention that test scores in Poland are higher than those of America and I cannot argue with the fact that it would be favorable to raise the scores in the United States. I do, however, think that test scores don’t represent how successful a student will be. Therefore, the communication and teamwork skills built through high school athletics can take a student much further in life than any multiple choice test could and they should continue to be practiced across America.

Lauren Woody

This piece appealed to me because I'm still in high school. It made me open my eyes to my own school and what they set as their priorities are. Thinking about it, my school focuses on their football program a lot, more than any other sport at the school. I think if the schools separate sports and education, students could excel more, and this country could improve in education.

Shavonne Boyle

I think sports, while they are extremely important in a high schoolers life, should not be the main focus of the school itself. Teachers have tendencies at times to let the reins loose for the football players or cut some slack on the major players of the soccer team. I believe participating in a sport shows you not only have talent but dedication to do both the school curriculum and the sports training and they should be treated equally and based on that.

Amy Uhlar

High school is not just about learning and getting an education. While those two points should be the main focus of the students’ four years, they shouldn’t be the only. Author Elizabeth Kolbert tells the reader of a boy who went to a school in Poland and excelled in test scores. Claiming the success was due in part to the fact that the Polish school had no sports teams. High school is more than just learning. High school prepares students for the future and real world survival. Being educated is important, but being a well-rounded individual is too. Sports and other clubs help a student become educated in life lessons. Teamwork, integrity, patience, social skills, and countless valuable character traits are learned while playing sports. It’s the students’ choice to play sports, but they should always have the option in high school. There is something about everyone coming out to the home football game that unifies the kids, and this unity is what high school is all about. Education is vital but sports are easily just as valuable!

Michelle Hochgenug

As Elizabeth Kolbert has stated,"American kids’ performance on the field shows just how well they can do when expectations are high and they put their minds to it. It’s too bad that their test scores show the same thing" Although i see her point that the education in a lot of American schools isn't prioritized as the high school sports, but i don't think one can compare sports and education.
Education is one thing and sports isn't the main cause for the rates of the students grades. Yes, the clubs sports can take up a lot of time from the student yet it is possible for students to settle down and study and do homework for classes.Of course parents don't want to see their child failing but they could also be put into use as helping their children improve and be a motivator. Education should be important in a students life even if it isn't the fun option.
What I do agree with is that sports seems to be more focused on. Yes, it helps the students socializing skills, improve their health, and is good for their well being. However, it should fall under education not rise above it. Yet, some high school make sure that students stay focused. For example, they would state that in order to stay on the team and play you must maintain a certain G.P.A which i find reasonable.
To conclude, high school sports can't really be compared to education however, a students education should be the main priority.


Sports are extremely important to teenagers in high school. It is not only a way for students to get exercise, it is also a way for them to connect in school, as friends, or for team work. My high school as well as most have a grade limit for athletes. It becomes a reason to do well in school. I don't agree with Kolbert that schools are leaning toward sports than school work. Schools just create a value for athletes to do well in their studies so they can do well in sports.

Courtney Stawarz

Sports are important, I understand that. However, Elizabeth Kolbert has a valid argument. Americans tend to put more emphasis on sports rather than academics. Yet it is not the child at fault. In the article Kolbert explains a tour that someone she knew went on and the parents were more concerned about if the football program was lacking rather then the math courses. High school sports are some-what related to grades. If the students focus is on their athletics and not on their academics there is gonna be some significant correlation between the two. The students education should be their main priority. Kolberts views on this are very similar to mine. She eloquently wrote this too without bashing sports fans. I feel like people get offended when someone says education isn't a main focus and sports is. Not many people realize it. However, if people took a step back from their views they would see that Americans are not that highly rated academically in the world.

Daryl Grindle

I believe if schools were to de-emphasize sports in order to boost students academic scores. The schools wouldn’t gain anything from doing this, because American students love sports and will do anything to be able to stay on a team. Even try harder in school. If you take something away from students they have nothing to lose, so you would they put more effort into their schoolings? Schools should require a certain grade point average for ever student that is involved in a sport. And if they don’t make the grades they are benched from the game until they get those grades up. Students will try more in school if they know they will not be able to play in a sport they are deeply passionate about.

Ronald Buyna

In my opinion Kolbert is implying that all the resources that are being used to train high school athletes could be used to fund more educational causes such as math. She also brings up the point that the parents of possible students could care less how bad there math ratings are, just as long as they have a good sports team backing them up. Granted schooling without some form of athletic may seem boring with low school morale, but that not what school is meant for school is for learning the basic necessities of life. Without a sports team school would be a simple, Go Learn, and Leave scenario. Kolbert says that US schools are putting too much emphasis on sports and not enough on academics, and I agree for the high school kids of today care little for their academics feeling they won’t need most education when they’re. “Playing in the majors”.

Brandon Friedman

I agree with Kolbert, American high schools today spend too much time and money on sports. Sports should be an extracurricular hobby outside of school. According to the article, American children are getting outscored by Polish children, and Poland spends less than half on each student. This alone should say something about our current situation. I do think sports and extracurricular activities should play a part in a student’s life, but we shouldn't be putting all of our resources into solely sports.

The administration for the schools aren't the only issue in this; parents are also culprits in this issue. Parents don’t seem too concerned about the academics; when Amanda Ripley took a tour to Washington D.C. to a private school, the tour leader told the parents that the math programs were weak and none of the parents showed any concern. As soon as the tour leader mentioned that the football program was weak, many parents showed concern.

Sports shouldn’t take over what is truly important for students. Education is the reason why they come to school in the first place, but now it seems that sports are slowly taking over. Sports can be beneficial by enhancing teamwork, confidence, and self-esteem, but it won’t help you with math or science. Students should focus on their education and if they seek out other hobbies or sports, it should be out of school.

Ariana Levi

Kolbert basically states that schools without sports would be/ are more successful. Without sports more emphasis is placed on academics and the welfare of the student. “Even wealthy American parents didn’t care about math as much as football,” Poland's math and science scores have improved so greatly because there is is of a distraction from academics and more support for the student.

Billy Bob

Brandon you make a great point in saying that sports are good for "enhancing teamwork, confidence, and self-esteem, but it won’t help you with math or science" I couldn't agree with you more. Kids and parents seem to have a tunnel vision when it comes to school focused primarily on sports, while pushing what matters most, education, off to the side. These days kids see all the media and hype that athletes are receiving in sports, also along with a very big paycheck for those who become professionals and that seems much more enticing than making good grades in math and science. There are no tv shows about the best math students in the nation or some of the smartest people in the world. Most student and parents do not realize how important education is until it is to late. I think the only way to change that is for the schools along with the NCAA to step in and require much higher academic standards for athletes, and the only way for this to work is if the parents, school, and administration/teachers are on board. We should use sports to our advantage to encourage kids to do well in school so they can play and maybe come out of high school or college and get a job in something other than sports.

Anya Middleton

I agree that athletics can have an effect on grades. I also believe that athletics is the priority over academics at many schools and something really should be done about it. Parents, teachers, and administers should re-emphasize the importance of academics and if students aren't performing well in the class room they should not be able to perform on the field. Students should also encourage other students to keep their eye on the prize and that education is the key. A lot of the problem may be solved if people started praising those doing well in school the way that student-athletes are praised.

L McCoy

Many people would readily agree that sports are important to the Americans culture. Where a lot of the disagreement comes is how important it is in reference to academics. Schools tend to put more emphasis on sports rather than academics. I agree with Anya that that athletics can have an effect on grades. When too much focus is put on athletics grades normally suffer. Being that athletics is a recreational activity it should not take priority over academics. As Anya stated above it is not only the responsibility of the athlete but also up to the parent, teachers, and administer to ensure that academics isn't over shadowed by athletics. They act as the enforcer. If a student grade are not what they should be it is up to them to pull the student athlete aside, offer assistance, or even put the student athlete's on probation until there is some improvement in their academics. If nothing is done to combat this issue we as a nation will continue to perform substantially worse then other countries academically.

Benjamin Brandt

A student's high school years serve to foster social and intellectual skills in order to prepare them for a successful professional life. Elizabeth Kolbert,in her "Have Sports Teams Brought Down America's Schools?", expresses her concern with American high schools' obsession with sports. She claims that American students are falling below the scholastic standard on an international scale due to a preoccupation with football, basketball, or any other sport. However, Kolbert bases her argument off of test scores--or a student's ability to select between four answer choices on a piece of paper. She fails to acknowledge the skills developed by high school sports that include critical thinking, cooperation, and integrity. If high school is preparation for the professional world, should students be taught to select between A, B, C, and D, or should they be taught how to work with other people in an honorable manner? High school sports offer critical skills. The football field is a competitive, intense environment, similar to how the professional world can be. While the maths and sciences hold great importance in developing scholars, it is the combination of social and intellectual ability that lifts students to a successful future.

Shino Someya

Elizabeth Kolbert makes an one sided argument on how sports brings down education. A student goes to school to learn and to be ready for their life ahead and sports can give that. Kolbert uses one country, Poland, as an example to support her statement. But how about the others? One of the top ranked countries, Japan, has students juggling both sports and academics at the same time. America is a great example of a country surrounded by sports. High schools are very competitive when it comes to sports, making it the biggest focus when it comes to talking about other schools. High schools sports are a way for students to enjoy and also get together to cheer on for their school. People use sports as a reason to argue why America does not rank high in statistics, but they can be proven wrong. First, sports makes teens think. Using strategies and ideas, gets them to use their brain. In soccer, players have to always think about where to pass or shoot in order to win. Also, team sports allows people to learn teamwork skills. This also helps people with their social skills.Plus, sports makes a player’s mentality tougher. Sports teach young people a valuable lesson, which can help them later in the future. Although America education is lower than some, sports shouldn't be the blame for that.

Sarah Stephen

Elizabeth Kolbert's concern with school and sports bring up a good point of which is more important, however that depends on the student as well. I feel that schools in America have a stereotype of the football team being a main part of the school, attending games, going to parties and somehow doing well in school. Schools aren't always like that. The school I attend is split up with the magnet program and the other program for kids zoned for the school. Our magnet program focuses on academics and vigorous studying, which in some cases are good, to help us stay focused in school. But our sports teams aren't very good but students still choose to join and play. Even with academics as a priority, most students have a life in which they play sports and other extra activities. Sports are a way to get away from school, being in a program where academics excel above sports, I'm not looking for a career in sports, and I just do it because I want to. Students usually do sports for their pleasure, and it’s their decision to use their time wisely. Sports are extra no matter what your academics are, you have to put in the extra time to practice and play. If playing sports is making you fall behind in school that’s a choice you have to make. I believe that is a hard choice but a choice making you choose which is more important for yourself. If a student is good at time management then great, but a lot aren't and that’s something that needs to be worked on as well to get good grades.

Her argument states that American students are falling below in academics comparing to other places such as Poland. I think a problem for that is teachers in America aren't able to teach to their full capacity. Better teachers that actually want to teach and help the students understand should be teaching. Teachers are put on so many time constraints and core standards in America, not allowing them to teach everything needed in a small amount of time, therefore rushing them and making it a less enjoyable job. Aside from teachers, America has different standards and requirements unlike other countries, which could be a reason for the difference. But I find that schools are forcing tons of standardized tests every year, which the states pour money into and not actually benefiting us. I think the reason other places are ahead of America is the American system for school isn't working well on the students in a way to learn in school and do other things outside of school. Education and sports shouldn't hold each other back.

Patrick R.

In her article, "Have Sports Teams Brought Down America's Schools?," Elizabeth Kolbert conveys her concerns with the fixation of American high schools on athletics. She states that American high schools spend excessive time and money on sporting activity and not enough on the maths and sciences. Kolbert believes that the American obsession with sports is a result of a culture with mixed up priorities, however, I disagree. Organized sports provide necessary life skills that cannot be taught in the classroom such as cooperation, teamwork, and competition. Although the United States may be slipping behind countries like Poland and Japan in standardized testing, the lack of emphasis on sports at a young age is a disadvantage in the long-term as children grow up to become adults. The high school playing field is an excellent training ground for professional life, and I agree with Ben as he states above how the intense, competitive nature of sports is great preparation for the workforce. Furthermore, I disagree with Kolbert's view because she does not credit the physical benefits that sports provide young people. Sporting activity is vital to the health and well-being of teens and this is every bit as important as intellectual capability in schools. Athletics promote exercise which is key to the development of all children. So although Elizabeth Kolbert attributes sports to the overall decline of American test scores, this does not mean America is falling behind the rest of the world.

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