I was too uncoordinated or too much of a misanthrope to be a "team player," so I never did sports in high school. I also never went to any football, basketball, or other games in high school. My friends were not jocks, except for one who did cross-country and another who was a star water polo player. These guys were also, like me, theater geeks.
So, high school sports are in not in my blood, shall we say. I'm not sure they will be in my son's blood, either. We'll see.
Still, I think it would be a real tragedy for a lot of student athletes in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District if they cannot keep playing because of lack of funds. And that might be the situation. The Contra Costa Times says that fundraising for after-school sports in the district is falling far short of its target. United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation, the nonprofit formed to raise $1.2 million to offset budget cuts the district had to make to sports programs has thus far only collected $320,000 collected by last week.
"Failing to raise the full amount threatens team competition involving 3,000 students in 13 sports, including football, basketball, baseball and softball," the Times says. United Mt. Diablo is raising money for sports at all six high schools in the district, including Northgate in Walnut Creek.
It's a good guess that sports is in the blood of these student athletes, who might lose out on the chance to play.
Sports is their passion. And isn't that what we want? A community of youth who are passionate about something that is beneficial to their bodies, minds, and spirits? Whether that something is sports for these athletes, theater, as it was for me, or art, music, or leadership, as it is for others.
Don't we want kids to find an activity that motivates them and teaches them valuable life lessons--how to get along with others, work together toward a common goal, play by rules and with honor, and how to try, fail, try again, and then succeed?
Personally, I've never bought into this argument among those people who actually loved their high school experience--that high school is a microcosm of life, that it socially prepares people to deal with the real world. The society of high school, with its cliques and hierarchies, to me, is kind of a fake world, not at all like what I encountered when I got out into so-called real world. From my personal experience, I'm betting that only about 10 percent of kids--usually, you know ,the star jocks and popular kids--actually liked high school. For the rest of us, it was a phase we have to get through in order to get on with the rest of our lives.
On the other hand, I believe that those extracurricular activities offered by typical public high schools--theater for me; sports for athletes--prepare us for what we will encounter in the real world of friends, work, family and so on.
With regard to kids who do sports, I'm assuming they do it, like I did theater, because they love it--unless they have obnoxious, pushy parents who are trying to relive their glory days or believe it is the ticket to some kind of college scholarship. These student athletes subject themselves to tough practices and the rigors of competition because they want to get better. They also want to be in the company of others who share their interest.
I hear about kids who feel like they don't fit in to that fake world of high school society, or they struggle academically. They might feel like giving up on school, but they have a gift for football, basketball, tennis, whatever else. They want to be on the team, so they stick with school, and feel motivated to work on their academics, so they can stay on the team and play.
And, of course, sports gets kids moving physically. Exercise is great for your health, and doing sports in high school might instill life-long habits to stay physically active.
These sports programs also give talented high school athletes a chance to shine, to feel good about themselves for displaying their gifts. And, sure, for some of the top athletes, getting a chance to shine in their sport will gain them notice by colleges that might be willing to help pay their way into coming to their school and playing for their team.
If you live in the towns covered by the Mt. Diablo district, and even if you don't have kids, you might consider donating. It's to everyone's benefit to have healthy, positive, motivated young people in the community. And, of course, if you're a parent of a student athlete and want to help out, there are lots of ways to do so. Everyone interested in helping out or donating can visit the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation website.
The foundation will hold a meeting 7 p.m. Monday in the College Park High School multiuse room at 201 Viking Drive in Pleasant Hill.
Here's also where you can find out about their next event, October 18, a 5-kilometer walk/run at Newhall Park in Concord.