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Athletic programs in high school are among the most visible and important in all public education. Some teachers would prefer that more classroom-oriented activities prevail, but in the long run, anything that brings the community and the school together strengthens the students, the school’s mission and the local community itself.

Developing more effective and more inclusive athletics at the high school level has long been the objective of forward-thinking educators. How to do it, on the other hand, has been a challenge for those same educators and the parents and students who support their ideas.

Increase Academic Participation

Physical education and the wide variety of ancillary academic subjects it encompasses are vital to the education of large percentages of any student body. The best way to promote physical education in general and athletics in particular is to make them both vital to the overall curriculum and to connect them to other key subjects like dance, social studies, physics and history.

Once this is accomplished, academic achievement and athletic achievement become synonymous, which creates a natural attraction between success-minded students and the entire spectrum of athletic programs. It also gathers potential support fairly effortlessly from faculty and administration.

Recognize Athletes

Everyone who has attended a public high school recognizes the central role football and basketball play in student culture. If such culture were extended to all sports, and by association any subject related to physical education, it would become a key motivating factor in the success track of many more students. The resulting amplification effects would have a transformative effect on both the programs themselves and the associated administration, faculty and officials.

Far too often programs in public schools are placed at odds with each other as they compete for smaller and smaller portions of the budget. This is entirely unnecessary. Athletics and academics can be taught from the same budget base and often achieve exactly the same objectives if they are designed properly and take advantage of the natural strengths of each discipline.

Schools must be tasked with the proper emphasis on leadership and achievement, and this cannot be accomplished with academics alone. That said, promoting athletics as an equivalent to a curriculum of book learning will take considerable thought and may require one or more unorthodox approaches. The results, however, will definitely be worth the effort.