From the beginning, though, some detractors questioned whether tax money should be spent on activities that could damage the brain, and occasionally leave students dead on the field.
In 1909, New York City superintendents decided to abolish football, and The New York Times predicted that soccer would become the sport of choice.
move to the United States from all over the world, for all kinds of reasons.
They observe everything in their new country with fresh eyes, including basic features of American life that most of us never stop to consider.
Cheating was rampant, and games looked more like brawls than organized contests. The trend started in elite private schools and then spread to the masses.
New York City inaugurated its Public Schools Athletic League in 1903, holding a track-and-field spectacular for 1,000 boys at Madison Square Garden the day after Christmas.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.The event was a milestone in Texas history: the first recorded football game between two high-school teams.Until then, most American boys had played sports in the haphazard way of boys the world over: ambling onto fields and into alleys for pickup games or challenging other loosely affiliated groups of students to a match.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.Nearly all of Jenny’s classmates at Shawnee are white, and 95 percent come from middle- or upper-income homes.But in 2012, only 17 percent of the school’s juniors and seniors took at least one Advanced Placement test—compared with the 50 percent of students who played school sports.As states and districts continue to slash education budgets, as more kids play on traveling teams outside of school, and as the globalized economy demands that children learn higher-order skills so they can compete down the line, it’s worth reevaluating the American sporting tradition.If sports were not central to the mission of American high schools, then what would be? Matthew’s Grammar School of Dallas in football, winning 5–0.