Posts Tagged ‘Province Newspaper’


This is the first of two posts on the subject of school athletics.  I was planning to start with a series of reasons why today’s students may be the final generation to see sports in school as we know them but instead I am saving that for my next post.  For this first post I want to outline five reasons why school sports may continue well into the future.

School sports have always been a big part of my life, as a student, a teacher and a parent.  Some of my most wonderful friendships are because of connections I made through school athletics.  I do think we are in rapidly changing times, and suggesting that school sports may slowly disappear from our schools is not too far-fetched (As a bit of a preview I think issues like cost, safety, available coaches, onerous regulations and increased competition are all challenging school sports).  That said, I find a number of compelling reasons that may mean the obstacles will be just that obstacles, and school sports will continue well into the future.

Here are five reasons that can lead me to believe those of you watching your children play school sports, will get to repeat the rite of passage with your grandchildren.

Firstly, nostalgia is big in schools.  One of the qualities that people like about schools is they generally look the same for children as they did for their parents.  Adults often romanticize their school sports experiences – from cheering on the football team, to scoring the winning goal in the soccer game. School rituals are often slow to change thus one could argue school sports are not going anywhere.  There will be too much of a push to keep them.  And while one can point to some jurisdictions around the world that don’t have them, they never have.  School sports are such a part of the fabric of our schools.

Somewhat related, is that high school sports receive much more media coverage that community sports.  When the media chooses to shine a light on school sports the public watches and listens which then influences the decisions young people make around sports.  We are especially fortunate in British Columbia with Howard Tsumura at the Province Newspaper.  No other major daily paper in the country gives the attention to high school sports as the Vancouver Province and Howard’s work, like his recent piece on why he loves high school basketball, helps ensure school sports are in the public eye.  From our major daily newspapers, to television to local community papers there is far more coverage for teenagers playing school sports than those playing community sports.  And this, in turn, helps to continue to support high school sports programs.

While there are many others in the community offering sporting opportunities, school districts in British Columbia, and across North America, own most of the gymnasiums.  So when it comes to sports like volleyball, basketball, badminton and wrestling, it makes sense for schools to offer them since they have the facilities.  For outside providers to offer these sports they have to pay gym rentals which can be often cost prohibitive.  In other countries gymnasiums are like hockey rinks in Canada, and community facilities.  As long as schools own the places where sports take place they will continue to be primary providers of the sports.

Another real potential for school sports is that, like with so much else in our schools, sports programs will evolve and new models will be created.  I am particularly vested in this as we are trying just that in West Vancouver.  For us, we have taken one of the primary school sports, basketball, and wrapped some programming around it (HERE) that help support athletes, develop coaches and keep students at their home school.  For better or worse, sports have changed where almost all sports offer year-round options and training begins at much younger ages.  School sports and community sports need to form new partnerships so that students are not left to select between playing sports at school and the community. There also needs to be different entry points – so you can have a team that has a range of commitment levels but all those involved have access to training and support to meet their levels of interest.  Our thinking around new models, is that rather than have all students attend one school with a particular sports passion, how do we support them at multiple schools, so they can continue to compete for their home schools and we can reinforce the value of inter-school competition.

Another possibility to ensure the long-term viability of school sports is some sort of new hybrid model of recreation and competition.  There is clearly a global push to have all our students be more active.  Our traditional sports have often been about selecting some students to participate in a model where a small percentage of the student body actually participate.  There are exceptions like football and rugby that have larger numbers, but it is generally true that school teams are quite small given the overall population of many schools.  One possibility is that a new group of sports emerge / reemerge that have larger teams and are more recreation based.  We have seen this with the growth of Ultimate in schools. Another possibility is that increased resources shift from inter-school teams to in-house intramural programs

There are major shifts happening in schooling.  And so many shifts with the nature of teaching and learning.  It is interesting that so far most of the discussion around school sports seem to be about trying to return them to some glory days of the past.  In the next post I will outline some real challenges that seem to be facing school sports moving forward.

There are many who would argue that they just couldn’t imagine schools without sports as we know them. But that is not really the purpose of this post – it is not about whether they are important, it is about the drives and blockers to their long term success.

As I talk to athletes and coaches and read stories in the newspaper, in many ways school sports are continuing to make a difference like they always have before.  And, of course, they have a lot going for them to assume this will continue into the future.


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This past week, Vancouver’s Province Newspaper ran a series entitled Our Growing Challenge focussing on a range of issues related to raising children.

I would highlight  a video interview with UBC Professor, Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichel, where she describes some of the findings based on a study of the psychology, learning and social lives of Grade 4 students hailing from different parts of Vancouver.  Interestingly, given all the attention focussed on young people wanting to be “wired”, that over 50% of these young people want to engage in physical activities after school.

One particular article in the series that stood out was Hyper-parented kids ‘are starting to crack’ .  The article reinforces many of the messages from the book The Price of Privilege which is being read by all our schools administrators, and will be shared with our school parent leaders next week.  This is taken from the article, and the interview with Carl Honore, author of Under Pressure: Rescuing Childhood from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting:

New research shows mental-health problems such as child depression and anxiety, and the substance abuse and suicide that often go along with them — are now most prevalent in middle-class kids, not the poorest children.

The reason, Honore says, is hyper-parented kids “are under so much pressure now that they are starting to crack.”

“We are hyper-scheduled, hyper-stimulated, hyper-distracted and hyper-busy, so it’s not surprising we’ve created a kind of childhood that reflects this,” Honore says.

Finally, I think it is worth re-printing the list of simple, practical advice that Province Reporter Sam Cooper compiled of  Ten things every parent can do:

1. When you boil it all down, all the experts agreed that the single best thing that buffers children from negative forces is a loving, nurturing, warm relationship with parents. University of B.C. researcher and documentary producer, Maria LeRose, said resiliency in children — the ability to rebound from hardships — comes from the loving looks and care they get from parents when they are young.

2. It’s crucial that parents make superhuman efforts to shield children from stress of all kinds, because pressure soaked up during childhood is proven to cause all kinds of problems in health and mental well-being later in life, the experts agree. UBC researcher Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl says stress and anxiety rates in children are surging, but a groundbreaking California study shows that you can actually train young brains to feel more optimistic, altruistic and grateful, simply by teaching them to “count their blessings.” She points to a new program called MindUP, “which has gone viral” in Lower Mainland schools, with children keeping “gratitude journals,” doing good deeds for others just for the sake of giving and doing exercises to increase their mental wellbeing.

3. Dr. Clyde Hertzman of UBC’s HELP group says every parent should be providing “nurturant” learning and playing experiences, such as reading with your child, and the facilities needed are free in most neighbourhoods.

4. Carl Honore, a Canadian philosopher who has written parenting and lifestyle books about modern pitfalls in our hyper-fast, wired world, says “parents have to set hard limits on their children’s technology use. It’s not enough to set them free in the wild west of cyberspace.”

5. N. Rose Point, childcare expert and B.C. Institute of Technology elder adviser, said the basic needs for children are good nutrition, a warm shelter, and discipline should never be associated with these crucial factors.

“A meal should never be used as a reward or punishment, and children need a safe and warm place to sleep,” she said. “Never send your child to their room as punishment. When they go to bed at night, they will consider it a punishment.”

6. Participating in organized sports is one of the best ways for children to build ability, maintain fitness and learn good social skills. But all those good things go down the drain if parents are in the stands pressuring their little pros. Experts say sports parents should sometimes just drop children off, instead of cheering at every game.

7. When it comes to disciplining children, strive to keep a cool head. Amedeo D’Angiulli, a professor at Carleton University who studied the effects of stress on brain development in B.C. youth, says: “Try not to take important actions that affect your child emotionally when you are tired, stressed-out, angry or when you feel ‘parental guilt’. Take a pause or sleep on it, if it can wait at all.”

8. Parents in B.C. are working harder and longer than most in Canada in order to meet high living costs. That’s why it’s important to identify a parenting support network of family and friends and tap into the community aid that is available, so that you don’t feel like the responsibility rests completely on your own shoulders.

9. Don’t aim for perfection in parenting. Recognize the uniqueness of your child, enjoy them for who they are and learn to trust your own parenting instincts.

10. Being a kid shouldn’t be about beating the competition. And being a parent shouldn’t be about producing a winner by enrolling them in a busy regiment of “enhancement” activities. Let your children play, stumble and find their own way, at least some of the time.

While most would say there is nothing surprising on the list, there are a lot of very good reminders.

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