Sports programs at some Minneapolis schools struggling amid budget cuts
- Wearing mismatched jerseys, holding car washes to raise money for sweatshirts and using grandparents’ vehicles for transportation to games and practices are some of the ways school sports teams in Minneapolis Public Schools are coping with budget cuts, the Star Tribune reports.
- Athletic budgets have been cut by 14% since last school year, and some teams are turning away students who want to play because they can’t afford to hire additional coaches.
- Complaints over the fact that schools in wealthier neighborhoods are able to raise enough money from their communities to supplement their sports programs led the school board to ask for a study on athletic spending. Officials say variation among schools is inevitable, but that additional cuts give the district an opportunity to examine “core values” and look at students “holistically,” the newspaper says.
Educational equity is often viewed in terms of what happens in the classroom, but for many students, participation in sports is just as important because it teaches skills such as teamwork and problem-solving and improves overall health. Sports can also improve academic performance, studies show. A 2014 study from researchers at the University of Kansas showed that athletes were more likely than non-athletes to graduate from high school — 98% to 90%.
Recent research from Finland also shows that participation in sports during adolescence — competitive and as a leisure activity — were associated with more years of postsecondary education in adulthood. Analyzing data from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, the researchers also found that an increase in physical activity between ages 12 and 15 was associated with higher grade point averages, even when controlling for family income and parents’ educational levels.
Some suggest that U.S. students would fare better in international comparisons of academic performance if schools didn’t spend so much time and energy on sports, but schools are increasingly turning to sponsorships and even charging fees for playing as a last resort.
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