Over the last few years local school districts have had to deal with declining enrollments. As a result, numerous programs have been cut, particularly sports, due mainly to dwindling team members and budget concerns.
Currently, in Richfield Springs Central School District, the residents, students and officials are now having to deal with the consideration of losing another traditional sports program. Last year the district teamed up with Mohawk Central Schools to present a combined wrestling team.
This year, it could be football.
According to the superintendent, this choice is being considered first and foremost in the name of safety. There are so few students signing up for football that ninth through twelfth graders would all be on the same varsity football team, competing against other teams mostly comprised of upperclassmen. Thatís a big difference in size and skill, and the perfect opportunity for serious injuries.
Students and parents are concerned with the contemplated cuts to the sports program. They counter that injuries are a part of sports, just as sure as football is a part of Richfield Springs Central School history and tradition.
Sharing sports teams may be the wave of the future, as schools throughout the region consider consolidation as enrollments decline. In addition to sharing sports teams, the superintendent is reaching out to other municipalities and asking for an across the board discussion regarding sharing services and resources.
At the same time, taxpayers are question proposed budget cuts, administrative and staffing salaries, health benefits, retirement packages and the percentage of tax dollars not being used for the kids.
As concerns rise, one question arises. Is this temporary or permanent? A simple solution would be to rekindle the students desires to play sports. With so many other alternatives out there to pass time away, including Xbox, Play Station, Wii, Ipods, cell phones (with games and music), and Game boy, there seems to be a need for reawakening an interest in sports.
So where do we begin? Biddy Basketball was a great start, but why canít we foster this craving for competitive exercise within our schools, not just as extra curricular?
Why donít we teach our students the basic fundamentals of each sport during gym? Why isnít the few weeks prior to the start of a new season devoted during gym class to teaching the rudiments of the sport that will soon be played on the field?
Maybe juggling, cup games, kickball, dodgeball, and free gym time could be replaced with learning the skills, rules, and basics for playing team sports.
Dribbling, batting, catching, throwing shooting, passing, running Ė all of these skills could be taught to the students from kindergarten. Through the years they could then hone these skills enough to feel confident in their abilities, confident enough to try out for a team.
Then we would not have to send them to other schools.
Itís a simplistic concept, yes, but you know, getting back to the basics just might work.