The first thing that I am going to say up front is that I am not a politician, I am not a school administrator, I am not a money person, I am none of that.
However, the fact that putting an end to high school sports in Warwick is even a discussion is nothing short of ridiculous.
Last week the Warwick School Committee released a list of school-related items that may be cut due to budgetary issues. Personally, I would be upset to see any of the cuts made, which also included personnel, technology in the school, other clubs, etc. However, sports should be an untouchable item regardless of the budget.
Once again, I will be straightforward. In terms of the ins and outs of the crisis and the finer details of what is on the table, I am not the right person to ask. Our Associate Editor Ethan Hartley did a terrific job covering the topic last week and explained it much better than I am capable of.
But from the periphery, and with a basic understanding of the politics surrounding the subject, I fail to accept that cutting sports is a necessary action … even if I am stretching and trying to hear both sides of the argument.
I understand that there is a budget that must be adhered to, and I understand that times are tough and there will likely be some unpleasant decisions and cuts made here in the next few months. Sports though? I have always assumed athletics would be one of the most protected programs in every school department in the country, and can’t wrap my head around what is potentially at stake.
Do I believe that sports will be cut? No, or at least I hope not.
The importance of high school athletics is talked about on a daily basis. It should be, because the importance of having athletics at the secondary level cannot be understated.
First off, from the social aspect, high sports are critical. Starting from early childhood, athletics are, in my opinion, the best way to socialize kids and get them comfortable in a public setting and interacting with peers as well as adults. That carries on in middle school and high school as well. Athletics provide an outlet for kids to spend time together, learn how to work as a team, and represent their school on and off the field.
On top of that, especially in our inner cities, sports are a fantastic way to keep kids off the street, and to help them maintain focus.
Obviously receiving an education is what is important for teenagers, but let’s face facts here … many kids are driven by sports, and use school as a way to advance their athletic careers. As much as we would all to see kids be enthusiastic about learning, and be passionate in the classroom, that is simply not the case. This is also not me advocating for leniency in the classroom, but for some kids, sports are the only thing they have, and the only thing that they are truly passionate about. To force them to either have to give that up, or seek other schools or leagues to compete, is just not right.
Usually when I make bold statements regarding the big picture, I try to be realistic and recognize every angle involved. In this matter though, one that is near and dear to me, I have no problem saying that sports are a flat-out necessity in our schools, and in many cases, are the biggest reason why kids attend college and earn a degree.
This is not intended to be an attack either, those involved in the school department and the city have a tough, often thankless job. They know much more than I do when it comes to this topic, and I am sure that they are calculated and thorough in their decisions. But, I reject the notion that high school athletics are not necessary, and to even suggest removing them would be an incredible mistake in my eyes.
I was not at the actual meeting last week, which was filled to the brim with local coaches and athletes that made the trip to show their support. It was great to see the videos online, and to hear some of the first-hand accounts. At the end of the day, we are all human, and there is no way that the message was not received by the school representatives there that night. Kudos to you all, and let’s continue to show why our local sports are essential.
Quickly before I leave you, I wanted to touch on two quick things regarding the high school playoffs.
First, I was disappointed to see the Pilgrim softball team fall over the weekend. The Lady Pats wrapped up the top seed and looked poised to cruise to the title. However, they came up just short against some of the top competition in the state.
It happens, and I feel bad for the seniors that came so close, but at the end of the day they should hold their heads high. In my eyes, they are every bit as good as the remaining clubs.
I would also like to extend my congratulations to the Bishop Hendricken volleyball team, which fell to Coventry in the state championship on Sunday.
The Hawks had a roller coaster of a season, and many counted them out heading into the postseason. For them to pull of two big upsets and make it as far as they did was impressive, so congrats to all involved on a great run.